I am obsessed with all blogs- not just foreign language blogs. I love Pioneer Woman, Cup of Jo, Iowa Girl Eats etc etc. And, it was fascinating to me that they would be offered amazing items! Food treats, trips to fun places, slippers- you name it! I obviously did not expect that being a Spanish teacher blogger. But then, it happened to me- and I was offered something even better than a free trip. I was offered an ADVANCED copy of La Casa de la Dentista by Señor Wooly!!!! And, I ran next door to the Latin teachers and did a happy dance twice. And, I dragged a girl out of her study hall who I taught last year to tell her about it. It is that wonderful for multiple reasons.
Last year, I taught Billy y las botas- which was Señor Wooly’s first graphic novel. It was a game changer for me. I felt like I finally taught a novel successfully. Part of it was due to the fact that I watched Señor Wooly’s series on How to teach with a graphic novel. (There are some awesome ideas there even if you aren’t teaching with a graphic novel!) The students were engaged, and it became even easier to talk about the pictures in the book because there were a fair amount of pages or boxes that didn’t have words just images. My students really enjoyed a novel for the first time. I will say that this was part of my journey learning how to teach a novel successfully, but I believe that the fact that this was a graphic novel helped me and my students.
Therefore, when I saw that Señor Wooly was making another graphic novel, I quickly tweeted my department chair to see if I could order a set. I had already ordered this set when Señor Wooly reached out to me about his newest graphic novel. I received it Thursday night and read it right then. (Sorry to my son who had to play Lego Batman by himself for a little bit while I read it!) Unlike Billy y las botas novel which follows closer to the story line of the song, the song of La Dentista only occurs in the beginning of the book. You wouldn’t actually have to know that it was a song to appreciate the novel.
Overall, I was invested in the story throughout the whole novel. There were some really incredible scenes by the artist Juan Carlos Pinilla. Although he also did the artwork for Billy y las botas, I was really staring at a few pages in La Dentista to take it all in. The details are pretty amazing- that means more time for you to really talk to your students about the illustrations on each page. As Señor Wooly mentions in his graphic novel series, the big difference between teaching a graphic novel and a regular novel is that the graphic novel gives you the opportunity to talk about the pictures in addition to the text. I relied upon the teachers’ guide when I was teaching Billy to really help me talk about all of the pictures.
In addition, La Dentista is definitely a page turner! Since the story line is a lot different than the actual music video, I had no clue what would happen on the next page. In class, I could imagine getting to some of those scenes at the very end of the bell. Then telling the students to hand back the book. They will ALL want to know more. What a great cliffhanger in class! (Although, this also happened in Billy y las botas! I would have to pretend be mad at students and tell them- don’t read ahead!!)
I know that some teachers may be worried that it is too scary for their students. It is geared for 6th grade and up. I watched some scary movies as a teenager, but overall I don’t watch a lot of scary movies now. Actually, I sat by the fire the last time I had to chaperone a trip to the Haunted Forest. I would say that if it wasn’t too scary for me (more page-turning than scary really), it wouldn’t be too scary for the majority of your MS/HS students.
Finally- how will I use this in my class? I realize that I am lucky to have both Billy y las botas and La Casa de la Dentista. It is an easy choice if you teach elementary students. You can just choose Billy y las botas. For my Spanish II students, I want to teach both graphic novels. I did think about doing literature circles where students could choose between Billy or Dentista. This would be a good option if you have some students who really hate horror stories. However, I would caution you to make sure that you are available to really discuss some of the pictures. As far as the level, I taught Billy easily in my level 2 class in December last year. In my opinion, you could teach either book at the end of level 1, during level 2 or at the beginning of level 3. If you are going to divide it between levels, I would teach Billy in level 1 and Dentista in level 2. I know that there were a lot of my Spanish 5 students who I taught in MS that were excited to see Billy y las botas for FVR, too.
Want to order it? You can order it off Señor Wooly’s website! It is on pre-order, and it will be available by November. If you have any questions about level, appropriateness etc, feel free to reach out to me.
Disclaimer: I did receive an advance hard copy for this review, but the opinions are all mine. Jim was VERY clear that he wanted an honest opinion about the book. I only recommend this book because I love it that much And I did pay for the subscription and teacher’s guide by myself because I love them that much!