Let’s Be Friends/Seamos Amigos  by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Nomar Perez

Let’s Be Friends/Seamos Amigos  by René Colato Laínez, illustrated by Nomar Perez. Holiday House, 2021. 9780823445059

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book? Joe and José meet at school.  José speaks Spanish, and Joe speaks English, but that doesn’t stop the two boys from bonding over a painting project.  They compliment each other’s artwork, and share supplies and ideas while working side by side.  On each page spread, Joe says a phrase in English, and José says the same in Spanish, for example:  “I need green.”  “Necesito verde.”, until the satisfying ending in which the boys agree on the best idea of all: to be friends.   

This simple story will be a lovely addition to primary grade bilingual collections, as it introduces some basic Spanish vocabulary (and includes a word list at the back) and phrasing.  The illustrations are bright and cheerful, and the text (all in speech bubbles) is bold and easy to follow.  The real joy of the book, of course, is found in the way art connects these two strangers and helps them begin to build a friendship and discover what they have in common.  The author is a teacher in a bilingual kindergarten classroom, and it appears that this is the first book in a series.

Anything you did not like about the book? No

To whom would you recommend this book? It would be really fun for a readers’ theater in K-1, especially in classrooms with Spanish-speaking students.  

Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: December 31, 2021

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