Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hugo tiene hambre (Hugo is hungry)

Hugo tiene hambre

About two years ago I came across a blue picture book titled Hugo tiene hambre (Hugo is hungry) written by Argentinian Silvia Schujer and illustrated by Mónica Weiss, also from Argentina.

As one opens the book we read about a little boy that looks angry, so angry because he is hungry, so hungry everything that surrounds him looks like food. People walk past him without noticing him or realizing how his hunger is so vast that it encompasses every thing he sees. All he sees looks like food: people, fountains, the sky, a little girl…
As I turn the pages I wonder what is this author going to do with the storyline: will she suddenly find someone to give Hugo some food? Will Hugo walk into a shelter and get some food?

No, none of those solutions to the plot line are presented. Silvia Schujer digs deeper, and Hugo chances upon someone that is as needy as he is: a dog. Initially, the dog looks like food to Hugo: a nice sausage wrapped in a bun, but later we realize the dog is as hungry as the child, and just as needy for companionship.

This is definitely a good story to get students talking about various topics. Although the concepts brought along are profound, the text is not. The book can be used with students with various degrees of profiency in Spanish, as well as students whose Spanish is their first language.

Silvia Schujer's bio can be found here, so is a list of her books.

An interview where Silvia discusses how she began to read and authors she has read over the years can be found here.

A video where Silvia describes her path from writing for adults to books for children can be found here.

Read about the author and the illustrator in this interview: Entrevista con Silvia Schujer y Mónica Weiss, ganadoras del Premio de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil Norma Fundalectura 2006 con Hugo tiene hambre.

Thanks to Eileen Hesseling who just shared this review by Sandra Comino.

A funny poem by Silvia Schujer:


Una palabra
por la escalera.

¡Pobre palabra!
se apalabró
cada escalón.

The following is a reading of a book by Silvia Schujer: El esqueleto de la biblioteca

El esqueleto de La Biblioteca, Silvia Schujer
El esqueleto de La Biblioteca, Silvia Schujer mariaclav29215

Here she is reading El señor JDC:

A few places to purchase the book are:

Librería Norma
Barnes and Noble

Ideas on how to use this book:

• Compare the book to The lady in the box by Ann McGovern (translated to La señora de la caja de cartón), A shelter in our car by Monica Gunning or Mr. Bow Tie by Karen Barbour. All three books deal with the topic of homeless persons, yet each one approaches it differently.
• Go to Social Studies Resources for other titles dealing with this subject.
• Students write questions to Hugo. Where is his family? Why doesn’t he have food? What will happen to Hugo? How can we help someone like Hugo?

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