de Deu Prats, Joan. 2005. SEBASTIAN’S ROLLER SKATES. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller. ISBN 1929132816 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]
Although the translator of this Spanish book is never acknowledged, she or he has done a lovely job of finding clear, informal English for the story of a shy boy who develops self-confidence by teaching himself to roller skate. SEBASTIAN’S ROLLER SKATES is a modern fable about perseverance and determination. Rovira’s illustrations are a mix of sketch and collage in a palette that grows brighter as Sebastian’s competence and confidence grows stronger. The composition places all text on the left page of each two-page spread, with the illustration starting at the bottom right of that page and growing through a strong diagonal to cover the whole right-hand page. This ensures a logical flow of both text and illustration.
This international book is not specific to Spanish culture only; its universality makes it a strong choice for all young readers and listeners. BOOKLIST’S review concludes, “The universality of Sebastian’s expressions ensures that this pleasing picture book, translated from the original Catalan, will resonate with children on this side of the Atlantic.”
Discuss the milestones of independence for this age group: riding a two-wheeler or skating on wheels, blades, or boards; navigating around neighborhoods or communities without immediate adult supervision; cooking simple recipes. Draw pictures/create collages of proudest achievements, and most desired future competencies.
Search for the original Spanish words and phrases retained in the illustrations for the translated edition, and use a Spanish/English dictionary to discover what they mean.
Other picture books about persevering:
Eriksson, Eva. A CRASH COURSE FOR MOLLY. ISBN 9129661560
Piper, Watty. THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. ISBN 0448405202
By Julie Brinker