Although I wasn’t at ACTFL, one of my favorite Latin teachers was there, so of course I sent her a long list of new books to buy me to add to my FVR library. I was so excited to see that Señor Jordan on YouTube has written a new book called La Estatua. It is a brand new book, and I was hooked. I loved it for many reasons:
- The illustrations were great! It would be easy to discuss the pictures alone if you were going to read it as a class. You could also just put some up around the room to pique student interest before putting it into your FVR rotation. When you get a new book in your library, make sure that you do a little “promotion” of the book. You could easily copy a few pictures, do a picture talk of them and then add it to your library.
- The Mexican culture embedded into the novel was great and felt natural. One point, they have huevos rancheros. I also appreciated how Lola refers to her father as Apá. Jeremy also manages to discuss the weather patterns of Mexico without it seeming awkward. The story also revolves around the story of chac mool and the myths around it.
- I also felt like the language itself seemed more natural. Since it was made for level 2, the words didn’t seem as repetitive. Some of the Spanish readers that I have read rely upon a lot of cognates, but this book did not. (Not that it didn’t seem comprehensible! The word count is around 300 new words.)
- As far as grammar, the story is predominantly in the present tense with some past tense scattered throughout the book.
- I appreciate a new voice in comprehensible novels. Just like with regular novels, some students will naturally drift to certain authors because they like the way that they write. Jeremy’s voice provides an great addition to an already amazing cast of authors. Plus, Jeremy is so popular with many students, so that may engage some reluctant readers.
I would say that the book is a bit scary, so if you have students who do not like scary books, I would be cautious. As I have noted before, I don’t love scary books, but I wasn’t too scared. For me, it was more engaging than scary. I would not use it in Middle School unless I knew that I had a group of students who were really into scary stories. You could easily use it in High School. Also, another note, I have read El Ekeko, and I am planning on using it with my level 1 class at the end of the year. I found some similarities with these two books. I wouldn’t teach both in the same year; however, if you have a student who loves El Ekeko, I would buy this book as a great follow-up book. (Same thing goes, if you have a student who loved La Estatua, I would encourage you to purchase El Ekeko to continue on a similar theme and for students to read during FVR.) It would also be interesting to create literature circles with either book, and then have students compare and contrast the novels at the end. I highly recommend adding this book to your library/class novel rotation! Let me know if you have any questions about it.