Poking around the stacks in the library this week I found a slim volume sandwiched between two thick, underused Spanish dictionaries: Spanish Pronunciation Illustrated by J.P. FitzGibbon and J. Merino. I immediately fell in love.
The petite volume was published in 1963 and doesn’t appear to have seen any more printings after that. A quick search around the internet reveals only a few copies for sale (2 on ABE, for instance, and both of them are in the UK). The book goes through all the sounds in the Spanish language, using example words and sentences to give the user practice with each. The fun part is that all the sentences are written in a rhyme-y, sing-song-y, and hilarious way and are accompanied by illustrations. It’s kind of like Edward Gorey made a Spanish primer.
Ana anda hasta la casa.
El militar pinta la piña.
La niña pide la silla.
Laura va hacia la farmacia.
Esta tela tiene tinta.
Está en la peña con mucha pena.
Of course, the illustrations are the best part of the book. As you can tell from the above image, they’re awesome! Simple and humorous, they’re by the Portuguese artist Lima de Freitas. According to this article (as best as I can make from the Portuguese), he lived from 1927 to 1998 and illustrated over 100 books, including Aquilino Ribeiro‘s translation of Don Quixote. There are also a couple of Quixote illustrations in this book, by the way. If I weren’t such a morally upright boy, I’d keep this little gem for myself. Alas, one day soon it’ll be back on the library shelf…gathering dust.