El Sueño de Claudia by Marta Morros, illustrated by Simona Malazzani. NubeOcho, 2021. 9788418599088
Claudia’s Dream by Marta Morros, illustrated by Simona Malazzani, translated by Cecilia Ross. NubeOcho, 2021. 9788418599323
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Format: Hardcover picture books, in Spanish and as an English translation
What did you like about the book? Claudia is a sweet young elephant who happens to have a magic lamp. A quick rub introduces a fantastical giraffe, who Claudia greets as “Mister Genie”. It’s Ms. Genie, the creature informs her. Claudia muses on why genies in stories are always male and then she makes her wish: to visit a fairy tale land of dragons, which Ms. Genie grants. As they land in front of a storybook castle, Claudia greets “Mister Fantasy World Dragon” but is again gently corrected; it’s Miss Dragon. And so on as the gang meets a robot, a Martian, and a dinosaur. Then Papa wakes Claudia from her nap and the little girl decides her favorite stuffed animal is actually Miss Unicorn. The very attractive soft and colorful artwork alternates between two-page wordless spreads featuring the group traveling from one make-believe place to the next, with the following two-page spread featuring dialog and cute visual details about the place the group visits. The robot world features flying cars and apartment blocks shaped like furniture and pets; Mars features a ride past Saturn’s gorgeous rings and a host of funny red indiginous plants. The language is simple and it’s a nice, soft-sell message about gender expectations and girl power.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I have to think this story works better in Spanish than in English, as it’s poking fun at the prevalence of masculine nouns in Spanish. In Spanish, genie is genio, dinosaur is dinosaurio, and dragone, robot, and extraterrestre all use the masculine article el. English speakers will not be in on the joke. Instead, we have to rely on Claudia’s repeatedly asking why stories never feature female fantasy characters, but avid young readers may find that assertion old-fashioned and puzzling.
To whom would you recommend this book? I would recommend the Spanish version for those looking to add more Spanish-language picture books, but probably not the English version. The artwork is very attractive but doesn’t quite compensate for the language non sequiturs in the English book.
Who should buy this book? Elementary or public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: April 26, 2022