Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Courage of a Samurai by Lori Tsugawa Whaley

The Courage of a Samurai, Seven Sword-Sharp Principles for Success, by Lori Tsugawa Whaley is an examination of the ancient samurai's culture and the relationship between this and our modern world. Seen through the eyes of a descendant
of the warrior samurai, Ms. Whaley gives us detailed accounts of Japanese individuals who have demonstrated the ideals of the samurai culture: courage, integrity, benevolence, respect, etc.
This is a book not meant to be consumed quickly, but one story at a time and perhaps some stories read over and over to further absorb the uplifting accounts. I believe one could open the book at any point to find inspiration.
Ms. Whaley has ventured beyond the usual samurai texts which focus on the Samurai themselves, and has shown us ways in which these ideals have not only survived in the Japanese people, but can inspire all of us to strive to become more courageous in our daily lives.  

Thursday, October 6, 2016

¡Hola! Let's Learn Spanish by Judy Martialay

A copy of ¡Hola! Let's Learn Spanish was given to me in order to be able to write a review. As an only partial Spanish speaker, I found the book fun and a good length to use as a supplement for an elementary school Spanish class or as a supplemental reader for elementary school students. 
The illustrations are bright and inviting and the character, Panchito the Mexican jumping bean, is cute. Seeking other friendly bean friends, he leads the reader through an adventure starting with a bean field full of unfriendly beans, to a market place, ending at a birthday party complete with pinata. 
The book is not overly long and does not feel like an academic book, much to its credit. I think for the intended reading population, 6-10 years old and their teachers, will find many fun stories and activities, such as the mask activity, complete with printable pages and suggestions for decorations with beans/frijoles and a short play.
I like the way the author paired English words with their Spanish equivalents, eliminating the reader's need to look elsewhere for translation during the reading. She has also included glossaries for vocabulary and an introduction to Mexican culture.  
I would recommend this book as a supplement to a formal as well as an informal introduction to Spanish for young readers.