Friday, May 29, 2020

Review - Dylan's Birthday Present

Dylan's Birthday Present
by Victor D. O. Santos
illustrated by Eszter Miklós
Date: 2020
Publisher: Linguacious
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Dylan is an American boy like many others. One thing makes him special, though: his parents come from other countries and speak to him in different languages. It's his birthday today and he receives a very unusual present, only to lose it shortly after. Together with his best friend Emma, a sweet bilingual girl born to South African parents, Dylan sets out to find his lost birthday present. During their search, the two friends learn about the value of friendship, of speaking different languages, and of appreciating one's own as well as others' cultural and linguistic background.

This book is a great way to introduce readers to the topic of different languages, cultural diversity, and acceptance of differences. While reading the book, readers will also learn six new words in other languages (link with audio pronunciation for each word can be found in the book).

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a book that tries to teach a few words of various languages, but ends up coming off as unrealistic and a bit elitist.

Right at the beginning, a subtle swipe is taken at the monolingual. Things don't get much better as we're launched into a ridiculous story. First, Dylan's birthday present is that he can have any present he can think of. (Say what?!) He chooses a chicken. So his father just goes out and buys him a live chicken. The thing inevitably runs away (because who needs fences or coops when you're trying to spoil your kid?) and Dylan and his friend Emma go on a neighbourhood journey to find the lost chicken. They encounter a stereotypical grumpy old woman who looks like she stepped out of historical fiction, and then a man who doesn't speak English. They find the chicken, and then Dylan's dad says he'll build a coop the next day. Um... ya think?

The illustrations are plagued by size issues and aren't very interesting to look at. They're "cute", but I still didn't like them. And for a book that's aiming to teach kids about different languages, only including six words in a 32-page book seems a little lazy. For a much better book that incorporates bilingualism seamlessly into the story, check out El Chupacabras by Adam Rubin.

Thank you to NetGalley and Linguacious for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.83 out of 5

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