Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Book Review: Mang Andoy's Signs

I learned about the new book that Ms. Mailin Paterno was working on back in 2013. Apart from this "chismis", I also heard that the book was under the production line of Tahanan Books For Young Readers. The chosen illustrator for the project happened to be Ms. Pepper Roxas whose collaborative work with May Tobias Papa and Adarna House, Araw sa Palengke, won them the 1st National Children's Book Award Best Reads of 2010. You put Ms. Paterno and Ms. Roxas together and Tahanan's reliable people then you have Mang Andoy's Signs, a quiet book that wonderfully speaks to us of the different ways to creatively and responsibly use language.

With my writer friend, Dr. Luis Gatmaitan, and the author of Mang Andoy's Signs, Ms. Mailin Paterno
The good news that Ms. Paterno is back with a published book for children is reason enough to celebrate. We missed her in the industry: her prose, poetry and voice.

Here are a few lines from the book. Read them aloud.
... a quiet man who made signs...
... a tiny workshop in the middle of a crowded noisy street...
Beautiful contradictions!

Ms. Roxas' illustrations complement Ms. Paterno's prose. The images I conjured is enriched through her collages. There is so much to see and to take in in every page. A feast for the eyes! That part of the book where Mang Andoy puts up the signs is an invitation to play with the author and the illustrator. Ms. Roxas provided an environment where members of the community are seen reacting to this attempt of creating order in chaos. Ms. Paterno further challenges the reader to interact not only with the written word, but the spaces in between them. There is something hidden  there. The silence in these spaces made me wonder. And then, there is that arrival at an AHA moment. Oh, what fun!

The reader has to be perceptive to discover this. The clue is to listen to the child's fearless question. There lies the magic of Mang Andoy's Signs.

Written in English, the book is deftly translated in Filipino by Mr. Eugene Evasco. He stays true to form that his Tagalog stands at par with the poetic prose of Ms. Paterno's. I am recommending this book to readers of all ages. A good read this month of August. This month when we celebrate Buwan ng Wika, let us reflect on the purpose of our use of language and the unspoken ones that lie in between. 

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