• Natalia Sepulveda

“DLee’s First Day of School”| “El primer día de clases de DLee” Review and Author Interv

The bilingual children’s book “DLee’s First Day of School”| “El primer día de clases de DLee” by the award winning author Diana Lee Santamaria is just adorable! I love the colorful and bright illustrations. The story depicts a little girl’s fears of her first day of school. This book is such a great tool to prepare and ease children in their transition to school. It is an encouraging story. My toddler was excited with every page, he loved the illustrations and understood the emotions. He also was excited to see her have friends in the story, as he is beginning to value his friendships. This story brought back memories of how I felt going to Pre-K and Kindergarten, when I felt nervous not knowing what to expect. It can be scary to not know what to expect and being away from the comforts of home. As DLee discovers all the fun activities along with her friend and teacher, she is so excited that she loses track of time. Once her mom returns, she says she cannot wait to return the next day! I love the fact that the book is bilingual in English and Spanish. This makes it an even more valuable tool for teachers and parents! Many children move to the United States with Spanish as their first language. This just adds other factors of uncertainty to children such as: a new culture, language, rules, people, environment, etc. Having a bilingual book can help ease a child’s transition in both languages. It also serves as a great tool for children learning Spanish or English. I definitely recommend this book! Is a great addition any library! The book can be purchased HERE. 

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|El libro bilingüe “DLee’s First Day of School”| “El primer día de clases de DLee” por la autora premiada Diana Lee Santamaría es muy lindo. Me encantaron las ilustraciones coloridas. Este cuento se trata de la incertidumbre del primer día de escuela de una niña. Este libro sirve como buena herramienta para preparar a los niños en la transición hacia la escuela. Es una historia alentadora. A mi hijo de tan solo dos años le encantó mirar las ilustraciones y entendió las emociones. Le llamó la atención ver el tema de la amistad, ya que ha comenzado a valorar sus amigos. Este cuento me trajo memorias de mis primeras experiencias en Pre-K y Kínder, donde me sentía nerviosa sin saber cómo iba ser. La escuela puede ser bastante intimidante para un niño al no saber que esperar y estar lejos de su zona de conforte. Mientras DLee descubre las actividades divertidas junto con su amigo y la maestra con mucha emoción, no se da cuenta de lo rápido que se fue el tiempo. Cuando su mamá regresa a recogerla DLee le dice que no puede esperar a regresar hasta el próximo día. De igual modo, me encanta que el libro es bilingüe, en inglés y español. Esto le da más valor al libro y sirve de muy buena herramienta para padres y educadores. Muchos niños se mudan a los Estados Unidos de América con español siendo su primer idioma. Esto agregar muchos factores a la incertidumbre de un niño como: una nueva cultura, idioma, reglas, gente, ambiente, etc. Teniendo este libro bilingüe puede ayudar en la transición de un niño a la escuela en dos idiomas. Al mismo tiempo, este libro es útil para niños que están aprendiendo español o inglés. ¡Definitivamente recomiendo este libro para todas las bibliotecas! El libro se puede comprar AQUI. 

Author Interview

Diana Lee Santamaria is an educator and an Award-Winning Latina children’s author of a bilingual preschool learning series entitled DLee’s World. Her books entitled, DLee’s Color Hunt, DLee’s Outdoor Countdown, DLee’s First Day of School, DLee’s Nighttime Scare, DLee’s Bad Day, and DLee’s Snow Day are the first six books of her preschool learning series based on the character DLee. DLee is a bright and quirky Hispanic girl with a passion for learning. The character was created to mirror the author’s childhood image however, the storyline of DLee’s World incorporates the author’s experiences as a child, adult, and educator. Each character in the DLee’s World Series represents various ethnicities that are underrepresented in today’s children’s literature.

Ms. Santamaria has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education along with eight years of teaching experience. As a result of her education and professional experiences, the author has created the DLee’s World Series to incorporate preschool common core objectives, diversity, playful verbiage, and developmentally appropriate learning strategies to help increase reading comprehension and overall learning. As a child who struggled with reading and social identification, the DLee’s World Series is designed to promote literacy, diversity, and fun! To take it a step further, the author also developed her series to be bilingual with both the English and Spanish translations of the story on the same page. When asked, the author said, “My hopes are for my books to be tools for children and families to either learn a new language or for English Language Learners (ELL) to strengthen their knowledge of the English language with their educators at school and families at home.” Overall, as a woman of Hispanic descent, the author understands the importance of learning the Spanish language, and regrets that she was not taught as a child. Therefore, she has created the bilingual series as a way for children to learn a language that is becoming so widely used throughout the United States as well as many other countries.

Who is the character DLee?

The name DLee is short for the name Diana Lee. DLee the character is a 3 year old American Latina. DLee’s mother is Puerto Rican and her father is Ecuadorian. DLee lives in a house in a suburban town with her mother and father, older brother, Angel, and cat, Mr. Mustache. Later in the stories, DLee will also have a pet dog and a little sister. DLee is a curious, imaginative, and a fun-loving child, who enjoys learning, asking questions and exploring the outdoors with her family and friends. DLee’s distinct characteristics are her large round red glasses and the heart on her shirt.

Who is DLee in relation to the author and how did she come to be?

DLee the character represents bits and pieces of the author as both child and adult. The name DLee derives from the author’s name Diana Lee. As a child, Ms. Santamaria’s mother always called her DLee and so she decided to use the name for her character to represent her.

When questioned about how DLee came to fruition the author stated, “When I wrote my first story, I was not quite sure who my character was going to be. However, I did know that I wanted he/she to depict someone who was different from the norm. When I thought back to my own experiences, I figured that my childhood appearance would make a great storybook character. Since I had a full face and large glasses, I experienced a lot of ridicule from classmates and family members. I always felt like I didn’t fit in; at school I didn’t look “cool” and with my family, I just didn’t look related. In comparison with my cousins, I did not look Latina enough. Consequently, friends and family would bother me and tell me I looked Asian. As a kid, this was upsetting but as a writer I used those recollections to illustrate DLee. Just like DLee represents me, most of the characters in DLee’s World embody the images of people who have played an influential part in my life. For example, DLee’s Mommy and Daddy were created in the actual image of my parents, in addition to characters like Ms. Mayo, Rye, Priscilla and Jolie, which were drawn to portray my Pre-K teacher and close friends. Since I grew up with a diverse group of friends, I incorporated those images into my books to help children of all diversities relate not only to the story but the characters as well.”

DLee’s World brings forward an unrepresented voice:

Since our society is made up of a diversified group of people, the characters in DLee’s World were created to be representative of those diversities that we see throughout the United States. DLee’s World has been designed to allow readers of all ethnicities to relate and learn through the characters’ actions and experiences. The author states, “Unlike when I was growing up and minorities were extremely underrepresented in children’s literature, each character in my stories has unique and distinct attributes that children can identify with; which will hopefully keep their attention and eagerness to learn and engage in literacy.”

What is next for DLee’s World?

Currently the author is working towards obtaining a literary agent and creating the DLee’s World stories into an animated educational cartoon for early childhood children. The author states, “I would love to bring DLee and the diverse cast of characters to the television screen, allowing children to learn and have fun with DLee and each character of DLee’s World.”

Events:

Ms. Santamaria has hosted many successful readings in schools, libraries, and bookstores throughout the New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia areas. She has gained much traction and recognition due to her engaging and energetic readings. Ms. Santamaria has held events and has done speaking engagements in places like El Museo Del Barrio, Barnes and Noble, Rutgers University, New Jersey City University, Montclair State University along with Bogota, Passaic and Oradell Public Libraries, just to name a few.

Recent News:

On September 8, 2016, the author attended the International Latino Book Awards, winning in two categories for “DLee’s First Day of School” and “Un Mal Día of DLee!” In June of 2017, Diana Santamaria won another International Latino Book Awards for her bilingual book, “DLee’s Snow Day.” Furthermore, the story won a Moonbeam Award in September 2017.

Information about DLee’s World can be found on http://www.dleesworld.com.

Fun Facts:

I love to do voiceovers and create voices for different characters like I do when I read my books. This is showcased on the two YouTube videos I have which can be seen on my website as well. Also, I love to sing Disney songs. My most favorite to sing (with my Ariel voice) is Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.

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About Me

Natalia Sepúlveda, is a bilingual children’s book author, translator and editor. She holds a master’s degree in Spanish from the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Natalia currently lives in Orlando with her husband Joseph and two children. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and serving the Lord. She’s the owner of Bilingual Lifestyle Publishing and Co-founder of Panem Project.  She also runs a Bilingual Lifestyle blog, where she shares her bilingual family adventures, book reviews, and bilingual and educational resources.

 

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