“Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, doggies, kitties and mousies: Welcome to the grand Tongue Twister Tournament!” And so begins this championship in which the best tongue torturer will win the tongue twister trophy.
The competitors include a variety of quirky characters, including Lengua de Lagarto, or Lizard Tongue, whose tongue is tied “just so.” There’s Grumpy Granny, who raps about a raggedy cat, and El Chupacabras, who loves to eat critters, “even insects are for me / cows and cats and doggies too / chupa chupa chupa cabras, BOO!”
Many of the tongue twisters included in this picture book will be familiar to Spanish-speaking children—and their parents too! But the book also includes tried-and-true tongue twisters familiar to English speakers, like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.” With colorful illustrations depicting the unique contestants, this bilingual collection of phrases that are difficult to say quickly will challenge children to excel in both English and Spanish.
Click here to listen to an interview with Nicolás Kanellos about his children’s book, El torneo de trabalenguas / The Tongue Twister Tournament.
Finalist, Texas Institute of Letters’ 2016 Denton Record Chronicle Award for Best Children’s Picture Book
“Words and phrases are bent, massaged, twisted, and thrown together in tricky sequences in this bilingual book about a competition for performers of tongue twisters. Each text-heavy page of Spanish and English faces a full-page portrait of the tongue-twister creator on stage, which adds a nice dimension of characterization to each offering. The twisters are well-translated; whether in English or Spanish, they read smoothly, and an additional 14 bonus twisters presented in their original languages in the back matter keeps the fun going. A great read for anyone learning to grapple with the musicality of two languages at once.”—Kirkus Reviews
“This bilingual book of playful rhymes showcases an eclectic cast of competitors presenting their most challenging tongue twisters. Kanellos uses well-known and original twisters in his circus-inspired tournament, where a ringmaster-type emcee welcomes each entrant to the stage. Vega’s garish illustrations offer close-ups of the stage and will make young readers feel like they are part of the audience.”—Booklist
“Readers should enjoy seeing how the rhymes and names change in the English and Spanish versions of each tongue-twister, most of which are twistier in Spanish. Vega spotlights each competitor’s star moment in poster-like scenes set on a dramatically lit stage, and a closing section of English and Spanish rhymes presents additional tongue-twisting challenges for ambitious readers.”—Publishers Weekly
NICOLÁS KANELLOS is the Brown Foundation Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Houston and founder-director of Arte Público Press. The author of numerous books on U.S. Hispanic literature and theatre for adults, including Hispanic Immigrant Literature: El Sueño del Retorno (University of Texas Press, 2011), he practiced these tongue twisters while growing up in New York and Puerto Rico. He lives with his family in Houston, Texas.
ANNE VEGA is the illustrator of Magda’s Tortillas / Las tortillas de Magda (Piñata Books, 2000) and Magda’s Piñata Magic / Magda y la piñata mágica (Piñata Books, 2001). She lives and works in Columbus, Ohio.
ATOS Interest Level: Lower/Middle Grades
Category: Picture Book