“Still, silent water / starts to run / dancing over rocks, turning into song.” Acclaimed children’s book author Alma Flor Ada and her daughter Rosalma Zubizarreta-Ada share short poems for children about rivers and the life found along them. There are odes to cicadas, dragonflies, butterflies, fish, frogs and birds. “Dragonfly, / lovely fan of lace / wings fluttering / unceasingly, / above the river’s water.”
These poems brim with the beauty of the natural world and the joy found in the great outdoors. There are stars that bathe in the river, the sun that hides behind the mountain and a stream that wraps itself in shadows. In one verse, the authors note there’s only a short distance from the river to the freeway leading back to the crowded, noisy city, “yet those few kilometers / allow us to dwell / in a very different world.”
Reflecting time spent with family enjoying nature, these poems were conceived while Alma Flor Ada camped along the Yuba River with her daughter, Rosalma Zubizarreta-Ada, who created the English-language versions. With gorgeous illustrations by Gabhor Utomo depicting the countryside and kids playing at a river, this bilingual picture book introduces children to both the joy of poetry and spending time outside.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
2021 Skipping Stones Honor Award
“A collection of 29 poems—each one standing for a letter in the Spanish alphabet—takes readers on a nature-filled journey punctuated by glimpses of butterflies, hummingbirds, frogs, the Milky Way, pebbles, and more. In Spanish, the poetry carries a lovely, lyrical, smooth, fluid, and rhythmic cadence. Utomo’s watercolors lend a dreamy quality … readers will feel the sun’s warmth and hear the rippling waters. Readers looking to strengthen their elementary Spanish or English vocabulary will appreciate this collection.”—Kirkus Reviews
ALMA FLOR ADA, Professor Emerita at the University of San Francisco and an expert on multicultural and bilingual education, is an internationally acclaimed children’s book author. Her books include My Name Is María Isabel (Athenaeum, 1995), which was named to the National Council of Social Studies and Children’s Book Council’s Notable Books; The Gold Coin (Atheneum, 1991), winner of a Christopher Medal; Under the Royal Palms (Atheneum, 1998), winner of a Pura Belpré Award; and Gathering the Sun (Harper Collins, 2001), recipient of a Once Upon a World Children’s Book Award from the Simon Wiesenthal Center Museum of Tolerance. She lives and works in San Rafael, California.
ROSALMA ZUBIZARRETA-ADA is a writer, organizational facilitator and author of From Conflict to Creative Collaboration. In the realm of children’s literature, she has co-authored The Woman Who Outshone the Sun (Children’s Book Press, 1991), created the English-language versions of the poems in Gathering the Sun (HarperCollins, 2001) and translated a number of other children’s books. She lives with her husband in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
GABHOR UTOMO was born in Indonesia, and received his degree from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2003. He has illustrated a number of children’s books, including Kai’s Journey to Gold Mountain (East West Discovery Press, 2004) and Lupita’s First Dance / El primer baile de Lupita (Piñata Books, 2013). Gabhor’s work has won numerous awards from local and national art organizations, and his painting of Senator Milton Marks is part of a permanent collection at the California State Building in downtown San Francisco. He lives with his family in Portland, Oregon.
ATOS Interest Level: Lower Grades
Category: Picture Book
LEXILE Spanish: 500L