4 out of 4 stars
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“When they are hungry, they like to eat leaves together. Sebastien hums ‘Frère Jacques.’ Isabella’s feet do Spanish dancing.”
Sebastien Escargo and Isabella Mariquita: In the Garden by Julie Marshall is a delightful children's book that celebrates the themes of individuality and friendship. Sebastien is a French snail, and his best friend, Isabella, is a Spanish ladybug. The beautifully-illustrated story introduces simple French and Spanish vocabulary and contrasts the friends' differences while highlighting the activities they enjoy doing together, such as playing hide-and-seek with the other insects, leaf skating, dress up, and exploring the garden.
As there is a lot to like about this adorable children's book, I am hard-pressed to define my favorite feature so I will list a few. First, I really love how this book celebrates individuality and teaches children to appreciate differences in one another. For example, Sebastien likes Isabella's "shiny red back" and appreciates that she is able to see "a lot of things" because she flies fast. Likewise, Isabella notices that Sebastien "sees one thing at a time" because he slides slowly, and she likes his "earthy brown shell." The book also teaches simple phrases in each language, including "Bonne nuit" and "Buenas noches," the French and Spanish translations for "Goodnight." While there is an emphasis on appreciating differences, the book also teaches that the friends share much in common which is illustrated by all of the fun adventures they share.
Next, I found the lovely illustrations by Katelin Bamford absolutely enchanting. They are colorful, whimsical, and sure to delight young readers. I also appreciate the book's formatting, which automatically displays the vibrant illustrations in a horizontal landscape orientation filling the Kindle page. This feature really stands out because often children's eBooks can only be read vertically, which means either viewing disproportionately small illustrations or having to enlarge the image and exit before moving on to the next page.
There isn't anything I dislike about this charming children's story. I noted one page lacking punctuation and would have liked an additional illustration on the final text-only page. However, these minor discrepancies didn't detract from an overall delightful book. It is a pleasure to rate it 4 out of 4 stars. I recommend it to young readers up to the age of nine, parents, grandparents, and teachers. In fact, I can't wait to read it with my grandson when he visits next week, as he loves exploring my garden for creatures like snails and ladybugs. Perhaps, we will encounter Sebastien and Isabella.
Sebastien Escargo and Isabella Mariquita
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