Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Carlos and Carmen Early Reader Series

I just received set 1 of the Carlos and Carmen early reader series.  I was immediately impressed with the quality of the illustrations and the books’ durable construction.  Then, I read them.  I am officially a fan of this superb series! 

The Carlos and Carmen books are available in Spanish and English.  I read the English version.  However, Spanish words are sprinkled throughout which provides two learning opportunities. First, children are exposed to a second language.  With as many as 50 million people speaking Spanish in the United States, it is valuable for English-speaking children to be exposed early to common Spanish words. In addition, the foreign words allow children to practice using context clues.  They can figure out what the unknown word is by identifying clues in the text and by looking at the illustrations.  There is also a Spanish to English key at the back of each book. 

Each book is divided into five short chapters.  The text is written at a second to third grade reading level.  McDonald does not make the stories feel like a Basal or easy reader though.  She incorporates suspense, humor, and personality into each chapter. 

The series is family oriented.  The parents are active and present. When the twins are running around the backyard, the parents are looking on.  When their yard floods, the parents play in the water and mud with their children. When Carlos and Carmen are concerned about a noise in the night, their dad takes it seriously and investigates. The family sits down together at mealtimes.  Extended family members come over to help out or to spend time with the twins.  The Garcias are a warm and close family.

Author Kirsten McDonald has created multi-faceted young Latino protagonists who have qualities parents want their children to emulate.  They are kind, fun, inquisitive, respectful, and helpful.  They demonstrate a wide range of experiences from fear and boredom to enthusiasm and playfulness. 

Erika Meza’s illustrations are vivid and gorgeous.  The actions are lively, and the facial expressions are wide-ranging.  The best part is how the parents are represented.  They are shown working and parenting side by side.  Their expressions toward each other convey love, playfulness, and admiration.  The illustrations work in perfect harmony with the text.

I highly recommend the Carlos and Carmen series—in Spanish and in English—for public and elementary school libraries.   Parents and teachers should also consider adding these books to their classroom or home collection. 

There are currently 16 books in series.  I read the following four.  I have included the publisher’s summaries.

Carlos and Carmen get some unexpected news. They're moving to a new house. The new house is big, red, and has one tire. What! A house with one tire?! The twins worry and worry but soon discover a house with one tire can be fun.

Carlos and Carmen have a hard time falling asleep in separate rooms. Once they solve that problem, they're kept awake by a spooky noise. The twins get their mom and dad to help them solve the mystery of the noise, which turns out to be something not very scary at all.

It's been raining and raining and raining. When the sun finally peeks out from behind the clouds, Carlos and Carmen find their entire backyard is one big puddle. But the twins don't mind once they discover it's not just a puddle of water--it's a puddle of fun!

The Green Surprise
Tío Alex is joining the Garcia family for a cookout, and he's bringing a surprise. A big green surprise. At first, Carlos and Carmen are disappointed in the lumpy green surprise. But with their mom's help and a few poles and stakes, the lump becomes a green surprise filled with fun. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for joining us! And this is a new to me series, I'll have to check it out!


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