Venezuela proved to be a difficult country to find picture books for. I was able to get my hands on one amazing book, which you can read more about below. I also know of 3 more, but could not find copies to review for you. If anyone has a copy please let us know how they are!
Wings and Dreams: The Legend of Angel Falls, by Venezuelan author Irania Macias Patterson & Catherine Courtland McElvane, published by Novello Festival Press. I could not find it at any library around me.
Chipis, Chipis: Small Shells of the Sea by the same author/illustrator team as above: Venezuelan author Irania Macias Patterson & Catherine Courtland McElvane, published by CPCC Press. I could not find it at any library around me.
Roberto’s Trip to the Top by John B. Paterson Jr. & John B. Paterson Sr., illustrated by Renato Alarcao, published by Candlewick, was also not available at any of the libraries around me.
If you know of any other great picture books set in, or about Venezuela, please let me know so I can do a follow up post!
The Caiman, by Venezuelan-born Maria Eugenia Manrique, Venezuelan illustrator Ramon Paris, & translated by Amy Brill, published by Amazon Crossing Kids, is the touching story of a beloved pet caiman who became a family member to Faoro, and later to his wife Angela, when she was rescued from the river by a group of children when the caiman was just 3 days old. It tells of the children who liked to visit her, and how she grieved when Faoro passed away.
I love the simple earth-toned illustrations, which focus on the natural world and the natural environment of the caiman. My girls thought it was great that someone could have a pet caiman, and now they want one too. We will stick with cats and chickens for now I think.
The author of this book rode the caiman featured when she was a girl visiting her family in the area. I love that the author got to tell this wonderful story about a positive human-animal relationship, and that it was translated and published in English for us to read.
I purchased this book for my family and classroom for this project.
The Animal Days, by New York-based Venezuelan author Keila Vall de la Ville, translated by Robin Myers, published by katakana editores, won the 2018 International Latino Book Award.
The book follows Julia as she rock climbs, loves, lives, and grieves across three continents, while coming of age. We know this book is good because it won the International Latino Book Award, I just don’t think it was for me.
The narration almost felt like stream-of-consciousness where someone is telling a story, but needs to explain something that happened in the past because you need to know it to understand the whole story. It jumped between past and present frequently, weaving in different times and places in the same chapter. For someone who has to put her book down frequently because she must get someone a snack, help someone use the potty, or falls asleep with a book in her lap each evening, it was hard for me to follow. If you have large chunks of time to read, this probably wound’t be a problem for you.
I also personally have a problem with frequent use of the “f word”. It was used in general conversation in the book and it was grating on my nerves. That’s my own hang up.
I did learn a lot about rock climbing from this book, something I previously had no knowledge of. It also made me wonder why as humans we sometimes connect with people and remain friends/lovers with them even though they are toxic. I did finish reading the book because I did enjoy Julia as a character, and wanted to make sure she got through some of the hardships she was going through.
I was sent this book as part of my Asymptote Book Club subscription, which I paid for myself.
I’d love to hear what books, projects, artists, music, and other fun things you’d recommend from Venezuela. Email me, message me, or comment/DM on Instagram.