Mamá Goose: A Latino Nursery Treasury

Bilin­gual Anthol­ogy of Folk­lore for Young Children


Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Cam­poy, acclaimed authors and schol­ars of Latino lit­er­a­ture, have spent years culling pop­u­lar and beloved lul­la­bies, jump-rope songs, rid­dles, proverbs, and more from all over the Spanish-speaking world. The result is the most com­pre­hen­sive bilin­gual folk­lore col­lec­tion avail­able in this coun­try. Full of charm and humor, rich with the diver­sity of Latino cul­tures, this one-of-a-kind trea­sury is the per­fect intro­duc­tion to Latino folk­lore for Eng­lish speak­ers, and a trove of famil­iar favorites for Span­ish speakers.


The trea­suries of the folk­lore, whether rhymes, rid­dles, songs or tongue twisters were pre­cious gifts in my child­hood. In grat­i­tude for the joy they gave me I have tried to share them in mul­ti­ple forms, within poetry antholo­gies and in books, like ¡Pío Peep!, MuuMoo, Merry Navi­dad and many oth­ers. Our book Ten Little Puppies / Diez perritos, is our latest contribution to this genre.


Jennifer Mattson (Booklist, Mar. 15, 2005 (Vol. 101, No. 14))
“This packed-to-the-gills volume features nursery rhymes, riddles, sayings, and songs drawn from the rich traditions of Spanish-speaking cultures. Arranged in thoughtfully introduced sections such as “Canciones de comba / Jump-Rope Songs” and “Adivinanzas / Riddles,” the 68 selections appear first in Spanish, followed by a loose recasting of the original in italicized English. Tracey Heffernan is credited with “creative editing of the English,” a role that extends beyond strict translation to produce English entries that preserve features such as rhyme, onomatopoeia, and repetition. The results occasionally stray significantly from the originals’ sense, so readers hoping to enrich a developing second language won’t be particularly well served; others will wish for musical notation and annotations about each entry’s cultural origins. (Jose-Luis Orozco’s bilingual poetry collections include more of both.) Still, native Spanish speakers wanting to share favorite rhymes with children will relish this book’s breadth–and young speakers of either language will appreciate the bouncing rhythms and nonsense fun. Two indexes, one in Spanish and one in English, conclude, and lighthearted watercolors by Suarez appear throughout. Category: Books for the Young–Nonfiction. 2005, Hyperion, $19.49. PreS-Gr. 2.”

Verónica Betancourt (Children’s Literature)
“Ada and Campoy have put together a very thorough collection of children’s rhymes ranging from lullabies to jump-rope games. The songs are fun to sing and the riddles are even more fun to puzzle through. Suarez’s darling watercolor illustrations perfectly complement the youthful exuberance of the rhymes. Though the collection is very comprehensive, it is not complete, as none of the songs have their accompanying music. This makes the sung or chanted portions of the collection somewhat inaccessible to readers who have not come across the tune in the past. This inaccessibility is not a remote possibility as the rhymes hail from all over Latin America and will not necessarily be familiar to all Latino readers. Also, because there are so many places of origin, it would be wonderful to know where each rhyme comes from, but Ada and Campoy do not provide this information either. Despite these flaws, the authors have done a marvelous job with their editor to ensure that the English translations of the rhymes not only make sense, but also rhyme and maintain the character of the Spanish original. This book is a solid and enjoyable addition for any library. 2004, Hyperion Books for Children, $19.99. Ages 6 mo. to 8.”

Michelle Negron Bueno (Children’s Literature)
“This comprehensive collection for young children includes lullabies, sayings, riddles, proverbs, finger games, tall tales, songs for special occasions and more from all over the Spanish-speaking world. A truly bilingual book, each entry’s Spanish text is paralleled in English. Some of the songs included are “A la nana nanita” translated “Sweet Dreams,” and “Esta noche es Nochebuena” translated “Tonight is Christmas Night.” The translations are faithful to the originals, conveying the charm and tenderness of the Spanish. The familiar saying “Cura, sana/madre rana/dame un besito/y vete a la cama” is translated “Kiss, kiss/Mother Toad/Send the pain/Down the road.” The only drawback to the collection is the lack of musical notation for the songs making it difficult for the English speaker to know how they are sung. The illustrations are delightful and feature children of color in many different cultural settings. 2005, Hyperion Books for Children, $19.99. Ages 1 to 4.”

Horn Book (Horn Book Guide, Fall 2005)
“Lullabies, games, nursery rhymes, songs, and riddles, presented in both English and Spanish, make up this bilingual collection, which is enhanced by cheery illustrations. Two problems limit the book’s usefulness: the introductory material is presented in English only (which doesn’t help Spanish-speakers) and the English translations are sometimes extremely loose (which doesn’t help someone wishing to better understand either language). Ind. Category: Nonfiction-Literature. 2005, Hyperion, 122pp, 19.99. Ages 2 to 5. Rating: 4: Recommended, with minor flaws.”

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2005 (Vol. 73, No. 5))
“Gathering fresh material, Ada and colleagues expand the scope of íPio Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes (2003) to include not only baby songs, but riddles, proverbs, play rhymes, jump-rope rhymes, a circular tale and even a funny ballad about a dead cat brought back to life by the smell of sardines. Except for English-only section introductions, the contents-index included-are bilingual, Spanish first, with the English translations editorially tweaked into rhyme: “Una, dos, y tres / pluma, tintero y papel / para escribir una carta / a mi querido Miguel,” becomes “One, two three / paper, ink and pen / all to write a letter / to my sweetheart Ben.” Suarez decorates the pages with smiling, round-faced, sweet-looking children and animals bouncing about exuberantly. As there are no source notes and the compilers even tuck in a few insufficiently identified poems of their own, this wins no high marks for scholarship-but young listeners singing or clapping along won’t mind. 2005, Hyperion, 128p, $19.99. Category: Bilingual poetry. Ages 3 to 8. © 2005 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.”

Hope Morrison (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, May 2005 (Vol. 58, No. 9))
“This handsome bilingual collection from the creators of íPfo Peep!: Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes (BCCB 6/03) brings together lullabies, lap and finger games, jump-rope jingles, riddles, proverbs, songs, and ballads in a carefully organized volume documenting childhood poems in the Spanish-speaking world. The poems are laid out in a two-column format, Spanish on the left and English on the right, and the fidelity of the translations generally extends even to the rhythm and meter of the stanzas. English introductions to each section offer information on the poems and cultural elements as well as noting some of the frequently used language in that particular section. The playful and perky watercolor illustrations, featuring small-eyed assortments of families and friends (both human and animal), work in harmony with the text, balancing the poems without overtaking the space. Further, because they are generously sprinkled throughout the pages (while still maintaining a clean layout), they could also offer literal assistance to those readers willing to take on the challenge of reading a poem in a foreign language. Despite the credentials of the compilers (both prominent figures in Latino literature studies), no information is given about where they found the poems, not even the probable country of origin. While this is somewhat mitigated by the text’s introduction, noting how Hispanophone cultures have “coexisted and blended,” it renders the text useless for talking about specific geographic locales or childhood activities in particular places. Still, those who plan bilingual storytimes will find extensive transitional material, and kids interested or skilled in the Spanish language will find plenty to pore over in this book. Spanish-speaking families, who can read the poems together and share childhood recollections inspired by the entries, will particularly benefit from this extensive collection of verse. Spanish and English indices of titles are included. Review Code: R — Recommended. (c) Copyright 2005, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2005, Hyperion, 121p, $19.99. Ages 5-8 yrs.”