Inside: An honest review about the Spanish reader - El gorila blanco de Guinea Española
Today's book review is about the book El gorila blanco de Guinea Española by Craig Klein Dexemple.
This is not just any book, but a graphic novel which are always SUPER popular with my students. I have no doubt that I will see this one coming off my shelf a lot in these next weeks during our free voluntary reading time.
First off, I am OBSESSED with the fact that this book focuses in on Guinea Española and Àfrica. I don't have other books that feature this country or Africa in general so it's nice to see countries other than Spain and Mexico represented in my books. (I have lots of other countries than just Spain and Mexico, but sometimes it feels like a lot of content focuses in on those two countries.)
This book follows the harrowing journey of Copito the albino gorilla who was discovered in Guinea Española and trafficked all the way to Barcelona through the loss of his gorila family, living in an apartment with his adopted family, his time in a Spanish zoo, his love life, and his impactful legacy.
It's full of amazing themes such as conservation, colonialism, exploration, persecution of the outcast, the struggle of looking or being different, as well as the creation of family.
It also includes lots of funny moments such as farts, slipping on banana peels, etc. which will get LOTS of giggles I am sure.
It incorporates lots of great vocabulary such as travel vocab, animal vocab, and food vocab if you're looking for thematic reinforcement.
This graphic novels illustrations are so well done and while they are black and white they are super detailed and vibrant. They truly help the reader comprehend what is being said throughout the graphic novel. It's full of super fun sayings and expressions that you'll be hearing from students as well.
The novel itself is written in the present tense with a little bit of simple past thrown in. It's ideal for Novice level readers, but an easy and enjoyable read for even those that are fluent.
The day I put this out on my shelf for free reading I had a student (who is lower) come up to me asking "Do you know the only Spanish speaking country in Africa?", so that alone is a huge win for me. It really is a fun book and very much at lower, novice students level to interact with.
If I were to use this as a class novel (which I think could be really cool in the future) I would recommended it for Spanish I or middle school exploratory or even all the way up to the beginning of Spanish II if you dive more into the deep topics and not just the story.
Here is a great resources (and it's digital as well) by Profe Nygaard that I would consider pairing with this novel if I were to use it as a class novel:
Guinea Ecuatorial - Culture - video embedded notes (en español)
You can purchase this novel at Spanishcuentos.com ($7.95) or on Amazon ($9.99) .
Let me know your thoughts on this novel below!