Leo Molossus offers much needed visual support for the novice level Latin reader.

Leo Molossus, a novice level Latin reader with strong visual support.

Other level B novice Latin texts:

Agripppina Mater Fortis by Lance Piantaggini at Magister P – A Roman matron has a secret.  Who else knows?

A young boy wants a dog but his parents do not think he is ready.   Brnado Brown Canem vult.  What will he do?

Ego Polyphemus by Andrew Stephan Olimpi at Comprehensible Classics – The cyclops Polyphemus has strange visitors and learns the hard lessons of love.

Familia Mala:  Saturnus et Iuppiter by Andrew Stephan Olimpi at Comprehensible Classics – Bad fathers and rebellious children all in god form.

We need more picture books for Latin learners to read.  Visual support is extremely important for novice level readers.  Leo Molossus by Jocelyn Demuth balances novice level Latin with strong visual support in an interesting story that teaches the reader about the Romans.  Molossus is a large dog who is in a Roman camp.  The story from the dog’s perspective is a clever way to include Roman military vocabulary in a compelling way for the novice learner.

The story continues with a comparison to a another dog named Leo.  The use of negative comparisons to the Roman dog in the Roman camp offers a simple way to repeat the Roman military vocabulary.  And Leo is a beautiful dog as vividly shown in the pictures.  As the story continues, the reader meets Decius, a Roman soldier.  At this point in the story there is quite a bit more Latin on the page.  Although this might seem daunting to a novice reader, 3 things support the reader to this point.  Wonderful pictures offer the reader strong visual support.  The first 3 pages start with smaller amounts of Latin that offer the reader a simple way to immerse into the story.  The Latin shelters vocabulary with clever ways to offer repetition such as the comparison of the 2 dogs early in the story.

The novice reader will explore appropriate descriptive language throughout the text through relative clauses, a variety of prepositional phrases, adverbs and complementary infinitives that add depth to the meaning of the story.  The story mostly stays in the present tense.  The dogs are frequently with people which offers the learner many repetitions with ablative of accompaniment phrases throughout the story.

Students seem drawn to the pictures in the book which one will understand quickly after a skim through the title.  The pictures and illustrations are compelling all on their own!  The text uses a consistent and simple style that offers the novice reader support for understanding.  What I think keeps students with the book is the clever way some complex constructions, descriptive language or verb tenses are woven into the story.  The story balances just enough depth to maintain the attention of the reader while lifting up the reader with proper support.

Leo Molossus is a must have addition for a Latin library as there are few titles at the novice level that offer the visual support along with consistent textual construction that is a must have to engage a novice reader.  And find ideas about teaching and more resources at Jocelyn’s website, Latina Hilara.




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