I don’t speak Spanish. My son doesn’t speak Spanish. I do, however, know enough Spanish that I can read a book written in Spanish and translate it for my son. Granted, I’m talking about a childrens’ book, but still…I can translate it.
One of my son’s current favorite reads is Cocodrilo se enamora. I had a little trouble with the conjugations but then I realized I’m reading a book that was written in Portuguese and then translated into Castilian Spanish. Still got the story across so…good job, Dad.
Cocodrilo is about a sensitive, caring, feeling, loving crocodile. Sometimes he’s cold. Sometimes he’s hot. Sometimes he’s sad; and sometimes he’s so happy he feels like giving the whole world a hug. I like this guy.
Cocodrilo is in love with Jirafa. Giraffe. The problem is that Jirafa es muy muy alta. She is very, very tall; and she never sees his loving smile. The entire book is spent recounting Cocodrilo’s attempts to get Jirafa to notice “su encantadora sonrisa”: his loving smile.
He gets on stilts. He does bike tricks while crossing a bridge. He buys fresh produce from the local market to feed her from atop Jirafa’s favorite tree. He sings her a love song. Sadly, all of our hero’s attempts to get Jirafa’s attention fail.
When he’s on stilts, she’s riding a bike and rides right between his legs. When he’s doing bike tricks on the bridge, Jirafa is talking to her friend about something very interesting. When he’s atop Jirafa’s favorite tree, she has a sore throat and is hunching over as she walks past it. When he’s singing his love song, she’s on a jog wearing headphones and listening to her Walkman. Yes, I said Walkman.
Ultimately, and unfortunately, his efforts land him in the hospital with a broken leg.
Cuando salio del hospital, estaba desesperado. Jirafa nunca leegaria a ver su encantadora sonrisa. Y Cocodrilo se fue a casa muy triste.
When Crocodilo left the hospital, he was desperate. Jirafa never saw his loving. And Crocodile went home very sad.
As the universe often does, it rewards your efforts when you stop pressing the issue.
Jirafa crashed into Crocodilo as he was walking home. She totally clocked his face with her knee. Poor kid got a nice little black eye from his beloved. BUT, their eyes met as they both lay on the floor. They both saw stars from probable concussions. As they sat there looking at the stars, they found happiness and started laughing.
“Que suerte que no me hayas visto!”
“Tienes razon,” dijo Jirafa, “si no, nunca me hubiese fijado en tu encantadora sonrisa.”
“How lucky it is that you didn’t see me,” said Crocodilo.
“You’re right,” said Jirafa, “if not, I never would have noticed your loving smile.”
And together, they walked off into the sunset. Literally.
A happy ending. A lesson in commitment, persistence, surrender, and reward. Lovely story. Literally.
Let’s step back a moment, though. How did our loving man end up in the hospital? This is my only problem with the book.
“I know,” thought Crocodilo. “I’ll lower her neck with a rope so she’ll notice me.”
Our hero actually lassos Jirafa with a rope and jerks her neck down. Naturally, as anyone probably would if a completely strange reptile hooked a rope around your neck and tugged on it, Jirafa snapped her neck back and threw Cocodrilo into the air. Boom. Broken leg. Hospital. Broken heart. Kinda serves him right.
I’m not sure what to do with those pages. The imagery is clear. The translation you can fudge, but how do I explain what is happening to my son?