[review + giveaway] Agua, Agüita (Water, Little Water) by Jorge Tetl Argueta and Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

“A drop of water, if it could write out its own history, could explain the universe to us.” ~ Lucy Larcom

Listen. Raindrops patter on the roof. A tossed pebble plops into a pond. Water burbles over smooth stones in a stream. Big waves crash onto the shore — foamy ebb bubbles and sloshes, smaller waves lap.

Water — life giver, wonder, miracle.

In his beautiful new trilingual picture book, Agua, Agüita/Water, Little Water (Piñata Books, 2017), award-winning author and poet Jorge Argueta describes the life cycle of water from the perspective of a single drop.

My name
is Water
but everyone
calls me ‘Little Water.’

I like
to be called
‘Little Water.’


Mi nombre
es Agua
pera todas
me conocen por “Agüita”.

A mí me gusta
que me llamen

Little Water explains how it is born “deep in our Mother Earth,” gradually climbing along rocks and roots through light and darkness until it reaches the surface, becoming visible as droplets resting on spider webs, flower petals and the tips of leaves. Little Water is a “sigh of morning dew” singing “a sweet, tender and strong song.”

Drop by tiny drop, Little Water becomes a river, a lake, an ocean. Then it climbs to the sky, turning into a cloud until it returns “singing to our Mother Earth.”

I love Argueta’s spare lyrical free verse, his metaphor of song and music, and most of all, his use of personification to give voice to nature, a voice that’s endearing, intimate, and sometimes whimsical.

I am one color
in the morning and
another in the afternoon.

Soy de un color
por la mañana y
de otro color en la tarde.

Children will delight in following Little Water’s wondrous journey and seeing the interconnectedness of all living things. They will like hearing Little Water speak directly to them, one small friend to another sharing the secret of its existence, and with personal connection comes awareness, appreciation and caring for Mother Earth.

Alcántara’s luminous, jewel-toned illustrations reinforce the sense of continuity, fluidity and constant motion with their concentric circles and ripples. As raindrops make ever widening circles on the water, we are reminded that even small things can have an impact, as they transform themselves into larger elements with powerful repercussions.

We see many “little waters” bubbling up deep from the ocean floor, entangled amongst roots, flowing through verdant landscapes, tinted by the sunset, cascading down rocky cliffs, caressing the shoreline. Finally, there is the “water bird” described in Argueta’s final stanza, a graceful, blue winged creature symbolizing life itself.

As in many of his books, Argueta expresses his affection and deep reverence for Mother Earth. Water is perhaps her greatest gift, essential to the web of life, as soft as it is forceful, mysterious and pervasive:

I am all colors
and have no color.
I am all flavors
and have no flavor.
I am all shapes
and am shapeless.
I am Water,
I am Little Water.


Soy de todos los colores
y no tengo color.
Soy de todos los sabores
y no tengor sabor.
Soy de todas las formas
y no tengo forma.
Soy Agua,
soy Agüita.

In addition to Spanish and English, Argueta’s poetic ode is presented in the back of the book in Nahuat, the language of his Pipil-Nahua ancestors in El Salvador — a great way to introduce readers to a fascinating ancient culture. Here’s a taste of it:

Nutukay At
Maya ha muchi
Nech ishmatit guey atchin

Naja Nugustú

In addition to sparking interesting discussions about the importance of water and identifying its different manifestations, Agua, Agüita will likely inspire young readers to write their own poems about the wonders of the natural world, perhaps personifying their favorite parts of it.

Beautiful and awe-inspiring with its own brand of charm, don’t miss this lovely, informative book, which holds special appeal for those who enjoy blending poetry with science.


written by Jorge Tetl Argueta
illustrated by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara
translated by Gabriela Baeza Ventura
published by Piñata Books/Arte Público Press, October 2017
Picture Book for ages 4-7, 32 pp.
*Junior Library Guild Selection
**On shelves October 31, 2017



The publisher has generously donated a copy of the book for one lucky Alphabet Soup reader. For a chance to win, simply leave a comment at this post no later than midnight (EST) Wednesday, November 8, 2017. You may also enter by sending an email with WATER in the subject line to: readermail (at) jamakimrattigan (dot) com. Giveaway open to U.S. residents only, please. Good Luck!


The lovely, warm and welcoming Linda Baie is hosting the Roundup at TeacherDance. Waltz on over to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere this week. Have you eaten all your Halloween candy yet? 🙂

*Interior spreads posted by permission of the publisher, text copyright © 2017 Jorge Tetl Argueta, illustrations © 2017 Felipe Ugalde Alcántara, published by Piñata Books/Arte Público Press. All rights reserved.

**Copyright © 2017 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

55 thoughts on “[review + giveaway] Agua, Agüita (Water, Little Water) by Jorge Tetl Argueta and Felipe Ugalde Alcántara

  1. Agua, Aguita is a beautiful work of art. My eighty seven year old friend would just fall in love with
    this lovely story. The bright colors of the art work would cheer her right up. She is a lover of poetry and this gem would make a senior lady very happy. I am sure she would also share this by reading it to her great grand children.


    1. Thanks for visiting, Jean. It is indeed a beautiful book, not only because of the text and illustrations, but because of the overall spirit of the book. I don’t speak Spanish, but I enjoy reading bilingual books in order to practice reading the language aloud and learning words and phrases. Good luck with the giveaway!


  2. Your words describing Jorge’s work are lovely, too, Jama. I’m glad you shared this with us today. It is a gorgeous book and The added languages make it even more enticing. We have “little water” in the guise of fog visiting today, a beautiful early greeting. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We are artwork x2000 here today – I love the kids on the banner, perusing the drying gourds, and the poetic imagery captured by Felipe Ugalde Alcántara. Today is just a visual feast. I also very much appreciate the dreamy cadence of the poet’s words. Jorge Argueta’s decision to include his native languages as well as English conveys this as well – I can imagine it read aloud. Simply lovely.


  4. This:

    “They will like hearing Little Water speak directly to them, one small friend to another sharing the secret of its existence, and with personal connection comes awareness, appreciation and caring for Mother Earth.”

    Well said, Jama. Such a beautiful book and a love letter to nature, so neglected in recent times.


    1. Thanks, Michelle — Mother Nature is indeed being neglected these days. Wonderful to see such a gentle, sensitive treatment of water’s life-giving properties.


  5. This book looks and sounds gorgeous. I’m in love with the whole idea of Little Water telling his story. And it’s so lyrical. Water is lyrical so it’s a perfect fit! Thanks for sharing about this book, Jama. Today I’ve been requesting books for purchase from my public library and if they don’t own this one, I’m requesting it, too.


  6. what a delightful sounding book. the pictures are amazing and so love the idea of connecting kids with nature in such a fun and informative way.


  7. This would make a fabulous mentor text for students writing narrative nonfiction! LOVE the inclusion of all the languages !


  8. What a beautiful book, Jama! I love the diversity of languages in this book and also the reminder about how essential each little drop of water is. These words are so important today in so many ways: “… we are reminded that even small things can have an impact, as they transform themselves into larger elements with powerful repercussions.” Thanks for sharing.


  9. The bits you’ve shared of this book have woven a spell over me. The illustrations are, as you describe them, luminous! I would love to hear the author read it in the other languages.


  10. Great post, Jama. I like your review and the samples you’ve chosen. I especially like the illustration of the cloud raining. The page with the poem looks like a nose, squeezing. My nose feels like that, at least once a winter. Please put my name in for the draw, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A fun classroom companion for Laura’s Water Can Be! This is beautiful, and will be fun for kids who are learning Spanish too!


  12. The book looks so beautiful – in text AND illustration. It reminds me of a poetry picture book that came out a few years ago, and now I’m struggling to recall the title…not Water Sings Blue, not Water Can Be…I think it was written by an Asian American, whose name escapes me, but it was gorgeous and poetic just like this.


      1. No, this was a book of poems about water that came out in either 2013 or 2014…I remember the years because i was a CYBILS poetry judge and that book stuck in my head. I think it’s either about the water cycle or forms of water…beautifully, brightly illustrated, too. Wish I could remember! (I think there may have been a waterfall on the cover? Perhaps?

        Liked by 1 person

  13. This looks like such a gorgeous book. The aspect of nurturing and contributing coming from a ‘child’ drop of water is an exquisite suggestion. This is a book for every library. Thanks for sharing this, Jama. I enjoy your book finds and insights very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. On the road again and a week late to this party, but thank you, Jama, for the peek into this gorgeous book I’ve been anticipating! Sure to quench an artistic, poetic, and scientific thirst, all. :0)


Comments are closed.