Score: 86/100 (8.6 out of 10)
This is our first ever bilingual children's book! We have to say that fact holds a special place in our hearts because about half of us are bilingual or multilingual.
“Solita and the Purple Moon” follows a little girl named Solita (perhaps a surrogate for the young reader) who finds it difficult to sleep at night because she feels afraid and lonely. How sad! But it is relatable. We've all had nightmares or times in which we found it difficult to sleep due to stress, anxiety, over-stimulation, or worry. We've all been alone at one time and afraid because of it. Some of us are afraid of the dark. Some of us have insomnia. Some of us suffer from night terrors. So, all of this is very relatable.
Solita, the little girl, longs for daylight to soothe the way she feels, but is comforted by the presence of the titular Purple Moon who shines light through her window, promising to be her friend and be with her until daylight comes. It promises to cover her in the light of her favorite color: purple.
It's a very simple premise with very simple art, but it's beautiful and appealing in its own way. Most of all, the bilingual aspect of this book is a terrific selling point. Children are very open to learning new languages when they are younger. They have a critical period in which it's easier for them to learn. In adulthood, learning a new language becomes more difficult. We recommend that the adult reader who is presenting this to their child/children should alternate between reading this book in English and in Spanish on different nights. It is also possible to read the English and Spanish subsequently, but because of the relative wordiness of the text, we fear that may push the limits of most children's' attention spans. The good news is that the English and Spanish versions are separated into blocks by a moon symbol, so it's easy to differentiate and to read one or the other.
With children's books, one of the key things we look at is whether the art is appealing or not. We're not looking for hyper-realism or anything, but we are looking for a certain level of refinement. Color helps. Having appealing characters who are easily identifiable also helps. The art in this book consists of mostly hand-drawn sketches with some color, mostly highlighting the little girl's hair or the Purple Moon's glow. We can understand that. In fact, we read a children's book with almost the exact same gimmick/dynamic called “The Greatest Light” by Tim & Cindy Morrison in which the book was mostly absent of color except for the light itself (which was normally portrayed as blue). Well, in this book, the light is purple.
The problem is that because over 90% of the book is pencil-gray, almost everything blends in with everything else. Even the Purple Moon, despite being purple, blends in because the purple is usually a very dull, faded purple. It's not especially bright or especially dark. It blends into the background too well, and so does the little girl. Yes, you can see the outline of her outfit and make out her strawberry-blonde hair, but aside from that, she still blends into the background. For some reason on page 13, perhaps the fact that the girl is finally asleep (?), the little girl's hair turns as gray as the background. It isn't colored at all. Is she supposed to be a bio-luminescent life-form or something? Does her hair only have color when she's awake? We know that a lot of heart and effort went into this book. It may have raised the overall quality if the author had hired an artist to take these existing pictures and refine them. Yes, it would be more expensive, but like with the editing that many prose authors pay for, it would greatly raise the quality.
Anyway, this book isn't intended to be taken too seriously in so far as being hyper-analyzed. It is intended to relax and calm your child before bedtime while also providing the opportunity for teaching Spanish language to English-speaking children and vice-versa. For that, we have to give it credit where credit is due.
Check it out on Amazon!