Don't tell my nephew Seany, but I got him a Christmas present today: the Manu Collection, three bilingual books about conflicts and daily life of a plucky toddler named Manu. They're published by Topka, http://www.topkabooks.com, 6-inch square books with 14 sturdy cardboard pages of colorful pictures and big type.
¡Manu, no!/No, Manu! tells how he tries to filch a cookie and, to my taste, has the edgiest, most suspense-filled plot, but the universal themes of the other books will no doubt resonate deeply with small children. Manu se va a la cama/Manu's bedtime expounds on the common angst of wanting to stay up and play. Manu pone la mesa/Manu sets the table narrates his personal growth as he takes on responsibility in his household and must cope with failure.
The author and publisher, Lucía Moreno Velo, says any children's book, even one for children 0 to 3 years old, must have all the elements of an adult book, especially plot development, but in only 50 words. Pictures help, but nothing can substitute for a real story.
I know Lucía because she belongs to the Madrid Writer's Critique Group, where we have witnessed her dream come true to create the books and the business. Gwyneth Box, another member, provided carefully researched translation of the original Spanish into English.
Do you suppose Seany would be impressed if I got the books autographed?