Marta! Big & Small by Jen Arena. Illustrated by Angela Dominguez. Roaring Brook Press, 2016

“To a lion, Marta is tranquila. Quiet, very quiet. / To a rabbit, Marta is ruidosa. Loud, very loud.” The same textual pattern is used on each two-page spread, cleverly describing an active little girl’s qualities in terms of comparisons and opposites. Spanish adjectives are seamlessly incorporated into the text and for each one, the English word follows as an echo. When all of Marta’s qualities are reiterated at story’s end, the animal names appear in Spanish, easily decipherable from the clear picture clues. The appealing illustrations capture Marta’s spirited nature and underscore the girl-power theme of the book, which ends with Marta described as “clever, very clever, like una niña.” (Ages 2–5)  © Cooperative Children’s Book Center

Try these early literacy activities with children:

  • Read: Pick out the Spanish words in the book. Practice saying them together. Look at the included glossary.
  • Talk: Revisit the idea of opposites. Introduce the idea of comparatives ­such as “bigger” or “smaller”. Compare your child to things in the room. Ask: What are bigger than? What are you smaller than?
  • Sing: “This is Big, Big, Big”. If you don’t know it, find it on the Jbrary Youtube channel.
  • Write: Different sizes of letters, shapes, or squiggles.
  • Play: Pretend to be the different animals in the book.
  • Math or Science: Scavenger hunt – find something big. Find something small. Find something bigger or smaller than the objects you found.



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