Sarah Barrett, who runs a multi-lingual school in the UK, was delighted when I approached her about reviewing my Betty & Cat books. As she says in the review below, “Regular readers of our blog will know we love books so when Hennie asked us to review this book I was excited to find out more. Language learning with bilingual animals? Whatever next!”
I’m thrilled to say, Sarah *got* the concept right away (she said it was *brilliant* – blush-blush!)
Sarah’s aim is to teach children second – or even third! – languages in a fun, non-threatening way. A way that fits in perfectly with the Betty & Cat concept. Here’s her review:
It’s a bit lonely, self-publishing. So when something amazing or fun or interesting happens, it’s the fuel that keeps me going. Here are some highlights:
Christine made me this birthday card – love her style, don’t you?
An – anonymous – version of this card is available for you to send when you buy two or more Betty & Cat books. Check the order page on this website for details.
Indigo in Montreal is a loyal fan:
See Il neige chez Betty & Cat In the snow top right at Indigo in Montreal. Although they say ages 3 to 5, I know the book is also read by a slew of 5 to 9 year olds – kids who are growing up in two languages (or more!) and who are pleased to see a book that reflects how they talk.
Jeff hustling for Betty & Cat at a Christmas Fair in Amsterdam
The highlight was meeting a young Englishwoman who bought a book for her dad so that he could share his grandchild’s Dutch/English experience – she was thrilled, and so was I! (The picture’s so fuzzy because it was SO cold that day!)
Elodie Combes, born in Corsica, feminist (she likes Betty & Cat because they don’t conform to stereotypes), and until recently professor of French at the University of Montreal, has this to say about the method used in Betty & Cat (beware: it’s in French – a good way for you to practice your French!):
Dealing with booksellers is fun, but what really gets me going is hearing that a bilingual child somewhere, who has been given a copy of Betty & Cat, reads it – and likes it! Does my heart good.
Nikki, aged 7, has her own video on YouTube, explaining how she likes the book. Cecilia, aged 7, reads the book to her sister Delphine, aged 5, explaining what *raining cats and dogs* means, and that sometimes you can’t translate phrases exactly; that each language has a different way of saying things. Aren’t kids amazing!
The girls’ mum sent along this link from the NYTimes:
Thanks Kyra. Fascinating reading, and another reason I’m going full speed ahead with sequels to Thuis bij Betty & Cat At Home (besides the fact that they’re so much fun to do!). Do read the article – especially if you speak more than one language (it will make you feel good about yourself, too!)
Het boek Betty & Cat is tot stand gekomen toen ‘n vriendin van mij, met kleinkinderen die tweetalig opgevoed worden, zich zorgen maakte dat zij zich soms buitengesloten voelde. Zij had weliswaar Engels gehad op school, maar dat was, volgens haar, in het verre verleden! Waarom geen tweetalig boek schrijven – en niet met ‘n vertaling, want wij waren daar allebei mee eens: niemand heeft het geduld om iets twee keer te lezen: eens in de vreemde taal en dan weer in de eigen taal! Op ‘n ochtend lagen Jeff en ik op bed met de beestjes, en het idee floepte zomaar in mijn hoofd: Betty en Cat in de hoofdrollen, ieder in zijn eigen taal. Lekker makkelijke spreektaal, geen moeilijke constructies, maar ook niet neerbuigend: dit kunnen we allemaal best aan!
Dus mijn eerste motivatie was: ouders en grootouders van tweetalige kinderen wat moed geven en zelfvertrouwen in de vreemde taal opbouwen – dat is mij gelukt, hoop ik. . .
The Betty and Cat books came about when a French friend of mine, whose grandchildren are being brought up in French and English, complained that she felt left out of the bilingual experience. Her English skills were there, but rusty. She asked me if we couldn’t do a bilingual book together (Marie’s an illustrator of children’s books). And not one that was translated. We both agreed that no one has the patience to read something twice: once in the foreign language ad once in translation.
One day, while Jeff and I were having breakfast in bed, with Betty and Cat at our feet, the idea came to me. Thus my primary motivation was to help parents and grandparents feel more at home with the budding bilingualism of the kids around them. Kids themselves are so flexible and so greedy for learning new things, that I figured they didn’t need any more help! They would just *get* it. So far, it seems to be working. Lots of sales have come from grandparents who bought the book as a gift. They then read it to or with the bilingual kids around them. That makes them feel good – and me feel good!