Camilla the Zebra


Title: Camilla the zebra

Author: Marisa Nunez

Illustrator: Oscar Villan

Publisher and Year: Kalandraka, 2003

Number of pages: 32

Genre: Fiction

Descriptive Annotation:  Camilla the zebra lives in a place where the wind is very strong, so she needs to wear her trousers or suspenders. One day, she decided to go outside without suspenders so the wind took seven of her stripes away, and Camilla cried exactly seven tears. As she walked, different animals gave her new, different stripes to wear. Snake gave her a ring, snail gave a silver streak, and a rainbow gave her a silk bow. She still was missing four stripes, so she cried four more tears. A spider saw this and knit her a black ribbon while a cicada donated a violin string. At last, goose tied a show string around Camilla but she was still missing one more stripe. When she got home, mom had braided a strand of her own mane for Camilla to wear. At the end, Camilla is a very colorful zebra who no longer needs to wear trousers.

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This book was originally published in Spain, which may interest students and start a discussion on books that have been translated into/from English. The language that Marisa Nunez has used reminds me of a fable. Cultural diversity is not directly inferred, but it is clear that different animals work together to give Camilla her new stripes. Students should be able to recognize helpfulness in the animals giving stripes to Camilla, and how we can help others in lots of different ways.

Interdisciplinary Connections: With younger students, it could be used as a basic addition/subtraction practice (it only goes up to seven). With both younger and older students I foresee this book being a way to open up the topic of changing bodies, since it is a zebra that is the main character neither boys nor girls are being put on the spot to connect to the text. A teacher may want to clarify that animals cannot really lose stripes or give up rings, but in the world of fiction, anything is possible. In science, a comparison of Camilla and other zebras might be a good way to integrate language. Students could also create a new stripe for Camilla using their favorite type of art material and write a story about how it came to be.

Other Information: Marisa Nunez has written six other books, all in Spanish. Oscar Villan has illustrated nine other books, also written in Spanish. I liked this book because the illustrations were simple but eye catching. In addition, the paper that is printed on is not typical paper, which I enjoyed because it gave another dimension to the story. If students were to visit a zoo, they may be interested in reading the story to see that real zebra’s are black and white without the extra colorful stripes.

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