¡Pío Peep! Traditional Spanish Nursery Rhymes

Bilin­gual Anthol­ogy of Folk­lore for Young Children


Notable Book in the area of Lan­guage Arts by National Book Coun­cil
Best Ten Books for Babies, Begin­ning with Books, Cen­ter for Early Lit­er­acy
Best Book of the Year, Nick Jr. Mag­a­zine
Media Award, Parent’s Guide to Children’s Media
100 Titles for Read­ing and Shar­ing, New York Pub­lic Library
Books of the Year Award, Par­ent­ing Mag­a­zines
2 x 2 Read­ing List, Texas Library Asso­ci­a­tion
Starred Review, School Library Jour­nal
Starred Review, Críti­cas
Miami Her­ald Best Books of the Year


El sol es de oro
la luna es de plata
y las estrel­li­tas
son de hoja de lata.

The sun’s a gold medal­lion
The moon’s a sil­ver ball.
The lit­tle stars are only tin;
I love them best of all.

Here is a ground­break­ing bilin­gual col­lec­tion of tra­di­tional rhymes that cel­e­brates child­hood and Span­ish and Latin Amer­i­can her­itage. From play­ing dress up to mak­ing tor­tillas, and from ris­ing at day­break to falling asleep, these joy­ful rhymes are sure to delight young readers.

Passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion, the twenty-nine rhymes included have been lov­ingly selected by dis­tin­guished authors Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Cam­poy. Eng­lish adap­ta­tions by Alice Scher­tle cap­ture the spirit of each rhyme and have a charm all their own. Accom­pa­nied by enchant­ing illus­tra­tions by Span­ish artist Viví Escrivá, this col­lec­tion is des­tined to become a beloved clas­sic for chil­dren already famil­iar with the rhymes as well as those encoun­ter­ing them for the first time.


The trea­suries of the folk­lore, whether rhymes, rid­dles, songs or tongue twisters were pre­cious gifts in my child­hood. In grat­i­tude for the joy they gave me I have tried to share them in mul­ti­ple forms, within poetry antholo­gies, like Días y días de poesía, Gor­rión gor­rión, and in books, like Mama Goose, MooMuu, Merry Navi­dad and many oth­ers. Our  book Ten Little Puppies / Diez perritos, is our latest contribution to this genre.


Gisela Jernigan, Ph.D. (Children’s Literature)
“This lively collection of 29 traditional Spanish nursery rhymes consists mostly of double-page spreads featuring the Spanish nursery rhyme on the first page followed by a corresponding English rhyme on the second page. Bright, child-like illustrations frame, enhance and unify the bilingual rhymes. As explained in the Spanish and English introductions, the English versions of the rhymes are not translations but poetic re-creations of the originals. While some details may differ, this method very successfully helps preserve the charm and spirit of the original Spanish. Schertle does an admirable job of adapting and re-creating. The selectors purposefully chose rhymes that are well-known and loved throughout the Spanish-speaking world. While three of the rhymes are from Mexico, the rest are favorites in many Spanish-speaking countries. The rhymes represent a nice variety. They accompany finger plays, games, songs, counting, breaking a piñata, falling asleep and other activities. Some of the rhymes celebrate things in nature, such as ants and elephants, while others are just fun and silly. This attractive collection is a wonderful introduction to oral Spanish folklore and should appeal to both children and adults. It would be a useful, enjoyable addition to bilingual classrooms, libraries and homes. 2003, HarperCollins, $18.99. Ages 3 mo. to 8.”

Ramirose Attebury Wendt (Children’s Literature)
“From piñatas to sea serpents and ants to angels, this book of traditional Spanish nursery rhymes offers not only beautiful poetics verses to capture the imagination of children and adults alike, it also offers an assembly of themes not often found in one collection. Ranging in length from a two-line rhyme about snails to a twenty-four-line rhyme about a little doll, each is filled with images made clear through the use of adverbs and adjectives and lots of action verbs. In addition, illustrations showing a variety of ethnic backgrounds surround, and at times appear behind, the printed verses. In contrast to many verse or poetry books printed in both English and Spanish, the rhyming patterns are kept in both languages. This occurs because the English version is not a direct translation of the original Spanish, but rather a related and inspired poem of its own. The introduction of the book acknowledges that this approach will lead to some slightly different details in the two versions, but reassures readers that the spirit of the original remains. This book could be a wonderful tool in a multicultural classroom to introduce the literary contributions of Hispanic culture and foster an appreciation for it. 2003, HarperCollins Publishers, $14.99. Ages 1 to 6.”

CCBC (Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices, 2004)
“Twenty-nine Spanish-language nursery rhymes that are familiar throughout the Americas are paired with English-language translations that delightfully capture the spirit of the original verse. Compilers Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy combed numerous sources for material for this collection. When it came to making the final selections, they noted, “we chose those nursery rhymes and songs that we cherished in our own childhoods, and those the numerous children-Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Central American-with whom we have worked love the most.” The sometimes playful, sometimes soothing Spanish nursery rhymes will be familiar to many Spanish-speaking parents and children. Alice Schertle’s lively, finely crafted English translations introduce these cultural touchstones to a whole new audience and underscore universal aspects of childhood. Viví Escrivá’s full-page watercolor art provides a pleasing accompaniment to each pairing, enriching the overall appeal of this inviting volume. CCBC categories: Folklore, Mythology, and Traditional Literature; Poetry. 2003, HarperCollins, 64 pages, $14.99 and $16.89. Ages birth-6.”

Horn Book (Horn Book Guide, Fall 2003)
“The selectors’ reputations precede them in this bilingual collection of over twenty-five well-known Spanish nursery rhymes. Schertle’s liberal English adaptations (rather than straight translations) go too far afield from the original verses and won’t help readers wishing to decode one language by using the other. The comforting watercolor illustrations are as inviting as the familiar rhymes. Category: Nonfiction-Folktales and Nursery Rhymes. 2003, HarperCollins/Rayo, 64pp, $14.99, $16.89. Ages 2 to 5. Rating: 4: Recommended, with minor flaws.”

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2003 (Vol. 71, No. 8))
“Hoping to introduce the rich heritage of Spanish nursery rhymes to children of all backgrounds, the editors have selected many of the best-known traditional rhymes, most originally from Spain, but now spread throughout Latin America. In this bilingual presentation, Schertle avoids a word-for-word translation and presents instead what the introduction calls a “poetic re-creation.” While small details may differ, the English versions flow easily off the tongue. A few of the rhymes are associated with children’s games, such as “El patio de mi casa” and children can get the sense of the game from the words, but there are few notes accompanying the individual rhymes. A preface acknowledges some sources and provides limited background information for adults. Escrivá’s pastoral paintings of sweet-faced children and adults dressed in a mix of traditional and contemporary clothing are pleasant accompaniments. 2003, HarperCollins, $14.99. Category: Poetry. Ages 4 to 8. © 2003 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.”

Janice M. Del Negro (The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, June 2003 (Vol. 56, No. 10))
“Co-editors Ada (author of Where the Flame Trees Bloom, BCCB 2/95, and My Name Is María Isabel, 6/93, etc.) and Campoy present twenty-nine traditional nursery rhymes from Spain and Latin America in Spanish and English. A note explains that the rhymes were selected from numerous Latino anthologies: “Finally, faced with the decision to select among hundreds, we chose those nursery rhymes and songs that we cherished in our own childhoods, and those the numerous children–Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, and Central American–with whom we have worked love the most.” Each page or spread offers one rhyme, Spanish-language version first. The verses are unforced and bouncy, with lilting rhythms that make them easy, pleasurable readalouds in both languages. Schertle’s English adaptations (based on translations by Ada) of the Spanish rhymes, while not always literal, capture the buoyancy and playfulness of the originals. The art is sometimes a bit bland, but the cozy illustrations have a comforting familiarity. The organic palette uses varying tones of green and blue, yellow and red to differentiate between interior and exterior, daytime and nighttime; some pages have simple textile-like borders in carnival colors that enclose the action. Images are sunny pastorals or domestic scenes featuring happy children, pleasant adults, and winning fauna–even the sun and the moon, peeking over the horizon in different spreads, smile indulgently. This is a substantive, useful collection that will enrich nursery rhyme, readaloud, and bilingual shelves. (Reviewed from galleys) Review Code: R — Recommended. (c) Copyright 2003, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2003, HarperCollins, 64p, $16.89 and $14.99. Ages 2-5 yrs.”