Can you imagine how a child would feel entering first day of school in a new country where he doesn’t speak the language? This winner wonderful book is absolutely needed if you have students who are multilingual learners in your classroom. “Gibberish” written by Young Vo reminded me of a middle grade book by Shaun Tan, “The Arrival”, an excellent choice to help children understand what it is like to move to a new place that speaks a different language.
The character, Dat is a new kid who had to experience being new to a country, new to a community, and new to school. The heart-breaking moment was, he did not understand a word of English and no one could understand his language. When Dat tried to communicate his thoughts, he realized that no one could understand him and the words he spoke came out as gibberish. He was more particularly frustrated when his name, Dat was being called Dan and Dav. Dat was a lost soul, he felt so disconnected and alone until he befriended a girl named Julie who started to put pictures and words together to help him learn to speak this new complex English language. The moment Dat got his words right, everyone who speaks gibberish in the story transforms from a cartoon character into an actual person in his eyes. What a clever way to show how a new language is perceived and heard by anyone who is trying to acquire that language.
I love the artwork – the use of colour pencils, watercolour, and digital media which made the story more inspiring and I also enjoyed the back end paper 'translating' what the bus driver, teacher and others were trying to say. An inspiring book to teach empathy towards immigrants and celebrate who they are so that they can be seen and heard.