Book Review: Ako si Kaliwa, Ako si Kanan

5:31:00 AM

Front Cover of Ako si Kaliwa, Ako si Kanan [1]

Ako si Kaliwa, Ako si Kanan (I am Left, I am Right) was written by Russell Molina and illustrated by Ibarra Crisostomo. Both of them are institutions in the field of children's story writing and illustrations. This book was published by Adarna House in 2009. It won the PBBY-Salanga Prize Honorable Mention in 2008.

I like the illustrations of Ibarra. It was very simple but it captured the totality of the story. There are no intricate details. I believe he used crayons or chalk for the illustrations. I like the design because it looked like drawing of children. The effect  It reminded me of my drawings during art class in elementary. I also love how Russell personified the slippers to convey the message to his readers. So much wittiness!

Excerpt from the book "Ako si Kaliwa, Ako si Kanan" [1]

I first heard this story last year during the High School Youth Camp organized by our church, Diliman Campus Bible Church. I was one of the counselors during the youth camp. The campers attended a workshop session on story telling facilitated by Mommy Sa Gonzales. The campers read the story and I loved the story then. I loved it even more when I met the author Russell and heard the story behind "Ako si Kaliwa, Ako si Kanan" from him.

The left and right slippers in the story represents his father and his twin brother. They are identical twins. They look very similar to each other and Russell said that he always had a hard time distinguishing his father from his uncle. His uncle, Edward, always had the first taste of different experiences in life: first to have a girlfriend, first to be employed, first to buy a car and house. His father always came after his uncle. Even in death, Russell shared to us that his uncle died of leukemia. One year after, his father also died because of leukemia. Russell realized that his uncle was always preparing and leading his father for different milestones and events in life. Even in sickness and death, Edward was first.

There are a lot of good lessons to learn from this story. First, this story addresses one of the major confusions in children - deciphering which pair of of the slippers is left and right. I cannot remember exactly if I really had a hard time with wearing my slippers correctly but most probably I did. Hahaha. I saw my younger cousins grow and they had a hard time at first in knowing which slipper is left and which is right. But later on they learned how to wear the slippers properly and in orienting laterality.
Left-Right Confusion [2]

It takes quite some time before a child can fully distinguish left from right. Most kids learn the laterality at age 7 or 8. By this time, telling left from right becomes a simple task for the child. However there are certain adult people who continued to have a left-right confusion. A study done involving college students showed 26 percent of the sample population struggled to some defree with the left-right concept. This confusion is frequently observed in kids with visual processing issues, dyslexia, dyscalculia and nonverbal learning disabilities. Proper education, patience in teaching and coaching kids can help them develop a sense of left and right [3].

This story also tackled the issue of sibling rivalry. Sometimes siblings fight over the attention and love of their parents and the people around them. They try to always be better than their siblings because they think that this will merit more attention and love from their parents. But this can actually result to quarrel, misunderstanding, frustration and depression. It is important to note that parent love their children no matter what. Not getting a lot of achievements or not being on top will never change the love of the parent for their children. Parent love their children equally and unconditionally. Sibling should not compete with one another but should help one another. Siblings should always be there for one another. Just like what happened in the pair of slippers in the story, they realized that both of them are important. In order to function well, they need each other. No one is left behind. 

Lastly, I believe that this story teaches the readers to always be thankful to all the people they are journeying with. It teaches us readers to cherish and appreciate all of these people. It's always great to be moving and advancing forward in life but these achievements and victories in life are best experienced when shared with your loved ones. It's sad and lonely to be alone. Some say that people often take for granted the very persons that most deserve their gratitude. You will only realize their importance and worth when they are gone. This is exactly what happened to the pair of slippers in the story, they only realize that they need one another to be useful and functional when they were separated from each other.

I highly recommend this book. This book was designed for children 6 years old and above. The book has an English and Filipino translation. This is also a good piece for story telling. Grab a copy of this book in all leading bookstores nationwide. Thanks for dropping by!


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