Whoever you are is a beautiful book with a moving message about our common humanity. It is by Australian author Mem Fox. Quienquiera que seas is the equally beautiful Spanish translation by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy and a wonderful book to read with any child learning Spanish.

Spanish language learners enjoy Quienquiera que seas for the same reasons that make it a good tool for learning Spanish. The central idea is that although there are differences, we are all fundamentally the same. This idea is expressed in simple language. The key words to talk about the differences are color de su piel, casas, escuelas, palabras, vidas, and países. In addition, the illustrations are accurate representations of the text so that children understand by looking at the pictures. For the line lloran igual que tú, the illustration shows people saying good-bye with tears running down their faces. For the line cuando seas mayor y ya hayas crecido the illustration is of a birthday cake with lots of candles, with many other birthday cakes behind, and a grown woman. For the lines El dolor es el mismo, y la sangre es la misma the illustration is of a crying child with a scraped and bleeding knee. These illustrations are bold and intricate. They show people with their people and in their places, and at the same time radiate the universality that is the central theme of the book.

The rhythm and repetition also make this picture book fun to read and listen to and an excellent text for Spanish language learners. Key phrases and structures are repeated: Quienquiera que seas, dondequiera que estés, puede que sean diferentes, pero son como las tuyas. The repetition of these structures and certain words gives the book a lovely rhythm. It is a joy to read aloud and children love to chime in too. If you are looking for a book for class or for home, Quienquiera que seas is a great addition to any collection.

By the way, if you have not taken a look at Mem Fox’s web site, it is certainly worth a stop. I love her picture book Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes and there is a video of her singing it! There are also tips for reading aloud that apply in any language.

Spanish for children

A picture book-song for little Spanish learners
Gained in translation - Quienquiera que seas