Published by Sleeping Bear Press
Summary: Isabel’s got the typical first-day-of-school jitters, but she has an additional worry: she doesn’t speak much English. She begs not to go; her mother is understanding but insistent, offering her this advice: “Al mal tiempo, buena cara. To bad times, a good face.” Things are tough at first, and when a girl named Sarah offers to be her friend, Isabel doesn’t understand and shakes her head. In the afternoon, though, there’s time to draw, and Isabel loves using all the colors. Remembering Mami’s advice, she draws two faces and shows them to Sarah, along with the word “Amigas”. The rest of the class enthusiastically admires Isabel’s picture, and Isabel ends up thinking that maybe school won’t be so bad after all. The story is told in both English and Spanish and includes two pages of Spanish to English translations for the words used in the story. 40 pages; ages 4-8.
Pros: A perfect back-to-school book for ELL students, particularly those who speak Spanish. The story captures the worries of learning a new language and fitting in, with a realistically hopeful ending.
Cons: I hope Isabel can get some good ELL services at school.