I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received.
Kena: The Good Hyena — Being the Best / Kena: La hiena buena — Ser el mejor is the first in a new series of bilingual picture books in Spanish and English that is gorgeously illustrated, wonderfully told, engaging, and adroitly teaches all its readers about grace, kindness, what matters, and what it really means to be the best. I am beyond impressed with this book and thrilled with how skillfully it meets an important need in Spanish/English bilingual books. My children love it because they get to spend some time being another person and seeing what it is like to take on their failures, learn from them, and ultimately succeed and grow.
Kena is a good cub, but like everyone he has a few manners that he needs to work on. He pushes others to the side to be first in line, he brags, makes fun of others, and when he loses a game he accuses others of not being fair and breaking the rules. His mom knows that she needs to talk to him about his behavior and she gently tells him that, “You can’t be the best at everything if you are not also a good friend.”
His classmates start to leave him alone, because it is no fun to be with someone who does these things. Kena attempts to rationalize this by telling himself and his mom that the others don’t want to play with him because he’s the best and the smartest.
Fortunately for Kena, his mom is a pro. She gently takes his hand and tells him, “Teasing our friends drives them away. What fun is winning if there is no one to be happy with? When it’s your friends’ time to win, be happy for them and go play again!”
So wise. Yay for moms.
It isn’t easy though. The next day Kena gets frustrated when he keeps getting caught in a game of hide and seek. A friend approaches him and asks him if he wants to keep playing and he remembers his mother’s advice. He pulls himself together and they get back to doing some serious play.
While talking with his mother before going to bed that night, he reveals that he had a great day and he realized that, “You can’t be the best at everything if you are not also the best friend of all!”
It’s a fantastic message to those that want to be the best but aren’t sure of how to align their priorities. It gives even the most competitive souls a map of sorts that directs them of where they should focus their energy — being a great friend.
My eldest had me read this story to him a dozen times. He was suspicious that I wasn’t reading all of the words to him because he noticed that I was only reading words from one side of each spread. I assured him that I was reading all of the words written in English and explained that on the opposite page it was the same story written in Spanish. After a bit he decided I was legitimate and that he was getting his full story’s worth.
After reading Kena, my eldest declared enthusiastically that he really liked it. He then asked me if Spanish was a good language for him to know and I said absolutely! A few days later as we were walking home from his French camp he started singing a song in Spanish (multiple languages are offered at this camp). I laughed that I sent him to French camp and he comes home singing in Spanish and he shrugged and said he wants to learn Spanish, too. He has also been, repeatedly, asking me if can bring Kena to show the Spanish teacher at his language camp and I’ve promised that as soon as I finish the review he can take it with him.
So, for the sake of making good on my promise to him, I’ll finish up and say that Kena is a fantastic book in English and in Spanish. It mirrors a realistic child in the guise of a hyena and then models how he changes to become a better friend. It’s an inspirational story and also intriguing. It’s a great book for those looking for a higher level of proficiency in Spanish or English and above all it is a beautifully illustrated book that is entertaining and easily holds up to many, many readings.
Recommended Ages 3 to 8. May 2016. 28 pages. ISBN:978-1532891274 Fiction. Paperback.
Where to Get it:
- [Affiliate Link]: Amazon.com (Free on Kindle Unlimited)
- [Independent Bookstore]: Indiebound.org
- [Library]: Worldcat.org
Author and Illustrator Websites:
- [Author] Gabriela Arellano
- [Illustrator] Gustavo Mazali (His illustrations are enchanting and captivating!)
Where Obtained: I received a review copy from the author. No other compensation was received. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
FTC Disclosures: Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit. It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This sounds like a good book in any language! FYI, Babl Books is a new small press doing bilingual books in multiple languages: http://bablbooks.com/books/
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