JOSÉ AND EL PERRO
By Susan Rose and Silvia López; Illustrated by Gloria Félix
The first in a new early reader series, JOSÉ AND EL PERRO (Penguin Workshop; on sale April 25, 2023; $9.99) by
Tony Award-winning Broadway producer behind The Band’s Visit Susan Rose and beloved author of Queen of Tejano Music: Selena, Silvia López offers English-speaking young readers an introduction to Spanish.
A young Spanish-speaking boy named José has dreamt of owning a dog for so long. José gets his wish granted after he and his family pick el perro perfecto, the perfect dog, from a local animal shelter. But when he tries out commands like "¡Siéntate!” (sit) and “¡Échate!” (lie down), his new pet simply tilts his head to the side in confusion. Then he realizes that the dog does understand commands—he just doesn't understand Spanish! In this early reader book, young readers will follow along as José teaches su perro inteligente some new words en español.
Co-written by notable Broadway producer Susan Rose and children’s book author Silvia López, JOSÉ AND EL PERRO is both an adorable read and the perfect book to introduce English-speaking readers who are just starting to learn Spanish and aims to be a great language-learning tool with Spanish and English translations at the back of the book. With fun characters, lively illustrations, and easy-to-read text, this book will help beginning young readers transition into confident bilingual readers.
Penguin Workshop | On sale 4/25/2023 | ISBN: 9780593521175
Ages 4-8 | $9.99 | $13.99 CAN
Letter from the Author
A boy wants a dog. The boy gets a dog. The boy wants to teach some commands. Does this sound familiar? It’s a very common theme in children’s books. But in José and El Perro, there is an added dimension. The boy happens to be bilingual.
So, what language will he use to teach his dog? The answer is … both!
The idea for this book came from my personal experience with my own dog. My Latina pet sitter’s family knew little English. Everyone — including her little boy José — spoke to Brady in Spanish. When I joked that he was going to be bilingual, I realized that this could very well be true. I’d just finished reading an article indicating that dogs have the ability to learn up to three-hundred words, about the same as a young child. Children can learn more than one language. Why do the words we teach our dogs have to be in a single language?
I decided to create a story about José, a young boy who is at first excited about adopting a shelter dog and then slightly disappointed when Feliz doesn’t seem to understand any commands. Since José’s own family is bilingual, he quickly realizes his new pet does know commands. He just doesn’t know Spanish! José then makes a choice. He will make sure Feliz is bilingual, like himself. Within the simple boy-dog theme, the warm, sweet story of José and Feliz became a great opportunity for children to become exposed to a second language.
I’d never written a book before, but I produce Broadway shows and believe in the beauty of collaboration. I was interested in partnering with a published Latina children’s book writer. When I met award-winning children’s book writer Silvia López, she convinced me that José and Feliz’ story would be better off as an Easy Reader for ages 4-8 rather than a picture book. That way, emerging readers could follow the story’s simple vocabulary even as they learned Spanish words first-hand.
It has been a wonderful experience to have the opportunity to work with Silvia, an accomplished writer who can perfect my story ideas. She and I just love Gloria Felix’s lively, colorful illustrations, so full of child appeal. Gloria was able to bring to life our vision of a loving family and the sweet bond that can exist between a child and a pet. We’re also thankful for the encouragement and assistance from our editor, Renee Kelly, who believes that a good story can not only be valuable in expanding children’s vocabulary, but also their knowledge of another language.
- Susan Rose