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HSU Press Presents Bilingual Children’s Book - Humboldt State Now

HSU Press Presents Bilingual Children’s Book

The kids will love what? That’s the question that an emu asks a music teacher in a new bilingual, children’s picture book authored by Peter Jain and illustrated by South Bay & Pine Hill Elementary School students.

Can Emu Really Sing Jambo?/¿Puede Emu Cantar Realmente Jambo?
Can Emu Really Sing Jambo?/¿Puede Emu Cantar Realmente Jambo? begins as a true story: an angry student rebels and a creative teacher tries to reach him. But when an emu from Freshwater gets involved, a fanciful flight of the imagination ensues.

Jain’s goal for his story was to increase collaborative efforts between HSU and the local community and to have his elementary school students illustrate a story that would be available around the world. Both SequoiaSong Publications, a local independent press, and Humboldt State University Press gave the idea a standing ovation, and the “Jambo” team was formed to oversee the project. With this foundation in place, Jain invited his school’s administrators, teachers and students to join him on this magical journey.

Exhilarated by the opportunity, scores of elementary school students began creating and submitting their art for possible inclusion in the book. HSU art student, Dante Nichelini, volunteered in several after school art workshops at South Bay Elementary. Two sixth grade students, Bryanna Tejeda-Lopez and Kimberly Silva, offered an initial Spanish translation before the final translation was harmonized through the donated efforts of Martha Manier, HSU Professor Emeritus; Jaime Montoya, HSU Professor and Arcata High Spanish teacher; and HSU’s Translation and Interpretation Club. Eight months and hundreds of illustrations later, the artwork of 36 students was selected and compiled in this blended book, complete with student photos and bios.

The book has become a source of pride and excitement for South Bay and Pine Hill Elementary Schools. That excitement continues to grow as South Bay Elementary’s drama teacher, Clover Schinke, has dramatized the book and will be offering the student-enacted play, accompanied by Jain’s music students performing songs he wrote especially for the occasion, as a free public performance at South Bay Elementary School on Thursday, May 3. A book signing will follow.

South Bay Union Elementary Schools will receive 50 percent of all the proceeds of book sales to support their music, art, and library programs. Other schools and educational projects—locally, nationally, and internationally—are invited to use the book for their fundraising efforts as well. For more information on how to use this book for your own fundraising project and for free creative coloring, music, and craft ideas, see “”:C:\Users\gms21\Documents\HSU now\\schools.

Author of Let the Dance Begin, Greetings From Humboldt (Wild Earth Press), Jain sees this children’s book as the culmination of his 29 years serving as the music teacher of Pine Hill and South Bay Elementary Schools. In the last three decades, he has helped countless students and their families foster the love of music in the classroom, in bi-annual school music concerts, and at venues such as College of the Redwoods, the County Music Festival, and the Rhododendron Festival. This year, he was honored with the 2018 Humboldt County Office of Education’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He holds a B.A. from HSU. He will be retiring at the end of this school year.

Can Emu Really Sing Jambo?/¿Puede Emu Cantar Realmente Jambo? was published collaboratively by Humboldt State University Press and SequoiaSong Publications. It is available at select local stores,,, and Digital Commons @ Humboldt State University.

Peter Jain will launch his new title at three FREE events:

For everyone:
• A dramatization of the book performed by South Bay Elementary School students followed by a book signing on Thursday, May 3, at 7 p.m. at South Bay Elementary School, 6077 Loma Avenue, Eureka.
• A reading and book signing with live music and free snacks, Friday, May 11, from 5:30-7 p.m. at Wrangletown Cider, 1350 9th Street, Arcata.

For kids:
• A playful reading and book signing accompanied by live music at the Eureka County Library’s “Family Fun Night-Stuffed Animal Sleepover” on Wednesday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m., 1313 3rd Street.

About SequoiaSong Publications: SequoiaSong Publications is a local independent publisher, which specializes in stories and art that might not otherwise be seen in mainstream publishing. For further information, please contact Cyndy Phillips, at or 707.502.0523.

About Humboldt State University Press: HSU Press’ publications support the HSU mission to improve the human condition and our environment by promoting understanding of social, economic, and environmental issues. All electronic publications are openly available on the Digital Commons. For further information, please contact Scholarly Communications and Digital Scholarship Librarian, Kyle Morgan at or .707.826.5602.