BooksForKidsBlog

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Save the Amazon! Zonia's Rain Forest by Juana Martinez Neal


EVERY MORNING THE RAIN FOREST CALLS TO ZONIA.

EVERY MORNING ZONIA ANSWERS.

Answering the call of the green wilderness, Little Zonia leaves her mother caring for her new baby brother, and following a beautiful azure butterfly, she goes out into the great green forest to greet her friends.

She says "Good Morning" to the two-toed sloth mamas hanging upside down from a branch and stops to speak to the scarlet Andean Cock of the Rock birds. She greets her favorite coati, and catches a ride on the back of the jaguar going her way. She smiles at the funny pink Amazon dolphins swimming by, and promises to introduce the giant anteater children to her little brother. Fearless Zonia greets the spectacled caiman crocodile, hangs from a limb beside a boa, and enjoys quiet time resting with pair of passing turtles. Zonia has no fear of her friends of the forest.

But as she heads back for home, she sees something dreadful--a clear-cut area, empty of green life and punctuated by the splintered stumps of once-tall trees.

FRIGHTENED, SHE RUNS THE REST OF THE WAY HOME.

Suddenly Zonia feels that instead of providing for her, the forest needs her help to survive, in Juana Martinez Neal's Zonia's Rain Forest (Candlewick Press, 2021). A book with truly lovely illustrations, the 2018 Caldecott Honor Award-winning author-illustrator's latest is a plea for all peoples to answer the call of the failing rain forests of the Amazon and the rest of the world. The contrast between Zonia's idyllic life in the forest and a devastated land devoid of its riches, dooming the rest of the climatic world, carries a strong message to youngsters. A beautiful work of picture book illustration, this newest also includes backmatter with a translation of the story into Zonia's language, Ashaninka, Facts about the Amazon and the Ashaninka people, a picture glossary of the Zonia's animal friends, and a section listing the major threat to the Amazon region.

Writes Kirkus Reviews, "Sweet illustrations done on handmade banana-bark paper depict a spunky and happy brown-skinned child with high cheekbones and long black hair flying in the wind."

Juana Martinez Neal is also the author-illustrator of Alma and How She Got Her Name. (Read my review here.)

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