Posted in picture books

Zonia’s Rain Forest is perfect for Earth Day

It’s Earth Day! Give your Mother Planet a hug!

Zonia’s Rain Forest, by Juana Martinez-Neal, (March 2021, Candlewick Press), $17.99, ISBN: 9781536208450

Ages 4-8

Zonia is a little girl who lives in the rain forest with “those she loves”. She visits her animal friends, enjoying their company and learning from them; when she heads home, she discovers, in horror, a landscape destroyed: trees chopped down; the land brutalized. She runs to her mother, telling her the forest needs help, and her mother responds that she must answer. Sagely, the little girl acknowledges that we all must answer. There is so much beauty in this book, it’s almost indescribable: Juana Martinez-Neal uses mixed media on handmade banana bark paper to create a textured, stunning rainforest landscape. Zonia, a member of the Peruvian Amazonian Indigenous Asháninka, wears plant-based paint on her face on the cover; inside, her rosy cheeks and little smile give her a playful expression that invites readers to befriend her. Zonia’s mother nurses her baby brother as she sees Zonia off for the day’s adventures. The rainforest colors are vibrant, alive, on the page, and a bright blue butterfly is our guide – is us – following Zonia through her interactions. When she encounters the pillaged rainforest, her horror, her confusion, reaches out and touches readers. When she speaks her final line in the book: “We all must answer”, it’s more than a call to action. It’s an accounting. Powerful, beautiful, and necessary for collections. Endpapers are an orange-on-orange swarm of butterflies flying across the spreads. Back matter includes a word about the Asháninka people in both English and Asháninka, with a link to Juana Martinez-Neal’s webpage, which contains an Asháninka translation to Zonia’s Rain Forest. The book also includes facts about the Amazon, threats to the Amazon, selected sources, and the names of Zonia’s animal friends.

Juana Martinez-Neal is a Caldecott Honor winner. Her author webpage has a wealth of resources about Zonia, including a teacher guide and links to videos and podcasts.

Zonia’s Rain Forest has starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist.

Posted in picture books, Uncategorized

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Along the Tapajós

Along the Tapajós, by Fernando Vilela/Translated by Daniel Hahn, (Oct. 2019, Amazon Crossing Kids), $17.99, ISBN: 978-1542008686

Ages 5-8

Amazon Crossing Kids’ latest picture book in translation, Along the Tapajós, is the story of Cauā and Inaê, a brother and sister who live in Pará, a Brazilian state along the Tapajós River. The home in Pará are built on stilts, and there are no school buses: kids travel to school by boat! When the winter season arrives, everyone returns home to pack up their homes and relocate to higher ground to wait out the rains. But when the family arrives at their new location, the siblings realize that Titi, their pet tortoise, has been left behind! Tortoises can’t swim, so Titi faces either drowning in the flooding or starving to death, but Ma stands firm: they’re not going back until the summer season. Determined to rescue their pet, Cauā and Inaê slip away that evening and head back to their home to rescue Titi.

Inspired by one of author Fernando Vilela’s trips to the Amazon Rainforest Along the Tapajós introduces readers to a different culture and a different way of life: going to school by boat? Living in a house on stilts, and moving with the seasons? There is so much going on in Along the Tapajós! While introducing a different way of life to kids, the story links readers through the love of a pet, the fear of forgetting and losing something beloved, and the excitement of an adventure to rescue it.

The digital and woodcut artwork is stunning, with vibrant, bright colors to celebrate the biodiversity of the Amazon: the endpapers show multicolored birds sitting on webs of crossed branches, and opaque waters with a glimpse at the life underneath; yellows, blues, and black stripes all show through the obscured water view. The artwork throughout is stunning, with bold colors and black line work, and images of communities working together to move to a safe space.

Most of my library kids are from countries in Central and South America. I can’t wait to read this to them and see what they think. Maybe I’ll hand out tortoise coloring sheets for an after-story craft! Ooh… and maybe have them contribute to an anaconda that will stretch across some of my display space… okay, I’m off to plan a rainforest storytime (I’ll be using Pragmatic Mom’s suggestions to start me off, along with one of my all-time favorite storytime books, The Perfect Siesta.)

Originally published in 2015 in Brazilian Portuguese, Along the Tapajós is available on October 1 and has a starred review from Kirkus. It also made School Library Journal‘s list, “The Marvelous Translated Picture Books of 2019 (So Far)“.

Fernando Vilela is an award-winning author and illustrator from Brazil. Published in Brazil under the title Tapajós, this book was inspired by one of his trips to the Amazon rainforest. He has received many awards for his books, and he has exhibited his artwork at home and abroad, including at the MoMA in New York and the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo. For his picture books, he has received five Jabuti awards (Brazil) and the New Horizons Honorable Mention of the Bologna Ragazzi International Award. He is also a plastics artist, and he teaches courses, lectures, and workshops on art and illustration. Learn more about him online at www.fernandovilela.com.br.

Daniel Hahn is an author, editor, and award-winning translator. His translation of The Book of Chameleons by José Eduardo Agualusa won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2007. His translation of A General Theory of Oblivion, also by José Eduardo Agualusa, won the 2017 International Dublin Literary Award. He recently served on the board of trustees of the Society of Authors. In 2017, Hahn helped establish the TA First Translation Prize, a new prize for debut literary translation. Learn more about him online at www.danielhahn.co.uk.

★“The vibrant colors in Vilela’s illustrations and the expressive faces of Cauã and Inaê bring lightheartedness to their dangerous journey and the cyclical living it prescribes. A riveting journey.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“This is one of those engaging titles that offers a glimpse of a location new to most American readers. More translations like this one, please!” —Fuse #8 Production

One lucky winner will receive a copy of Along the Tapajós, courtesy of Amazon Crossing (U.S. addresses). Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!