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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Bryan R. Johnson's Código 7: Bilingual Spanish - English Chapter Book for Kids, ESL/ELL, and Spanish Language Learners is a collection of interrelated stories about a group of fifth-grade friends attending Flint Hill Elementary School. Jefferson’s story is the first in the series. He’s always been about putting his vision on paper. If Jefferson’s not painting, he’s busy drawing or sketching something. When Principal Cooler asks for ideas at a school assembly on how to jazz up the school for its 50th anniversary, Jefferson couldn’t stop himself from suggesting a mural for the blank, white shoebox-shaped walls. The audience instantly got on board with his suggestion, and ideas about the mural’s themes flew around the excited audience. But who should be the artist? Jefferson cringed when his friend Darren suggested that Jefferson do it. After all, shouldn’t a professional do it, not a kid? The principal and teachers seemed to all agree; Jefferson would be put in charge of the mural project. Somehow, he knew if he worked hard enough at it, he’d come up with the perfect idea, but time was ticking past and still nothing. Then Mr. Summers, the groundskeeper, gave him the best possible advice.
I’m always on the lookout for bilingual Spanish/English books as a way to refresh my familiarity with a language I rarely get to use in real life. Bryan R. Johnson’s collection of inspirational stories for preteens offered me the perfect opportunity to do so. His stories are beautifully written, and his characters are well-defined and credible. Each kid’s challenges and triumphs seem universal, and the resolutions are ingenious. The Spanish translations were fun to work through before reading the English, and I appreciated the fact that the two versions were separated instead of being presented on opposing pages. The simple fact of it being a bit harder to cheat and look at the translation helps motivate the reader to deduce and work just a bit more with their language skill set. The stories are awesome, and the opportunity to use both languages while enjoying them is a big plus. Código 7 is most highly recommended.