María Eugenia Manrique & Ramón París
Translated by Amy Brill
So you might have a friend with an iguana, or visited a shop with a dog or even a chicken (shoutout to the jewelry shop in Town with 2 shop chickens!) but have you ever visited a shop with a ten foot long caiman? Originally published in Venezuela, The Caiman follows a jeweler named Faoro who took a 3 day old caiman back to his house, named her Night, and ended up keeping her for the rest of his life!
Something that’s unique about the story (besides the entire premise of a massive domesticated caiman I suppose) is that the author knew (and rode!) Faoro and Night. There are even several photos in the back of María and Night, Faoro, and Ramón. It’s lovely to read a story about a beloved pet that often gets a bad rap in the wild. Night grew up entirely domesticated and was loving to Faoro and very relaxed around children.
Stylistically, I love the illustrations but wish there was a bit more variety of skin tones. The limited color palette is beautiful, but it should be noted that if readers are unfamiliar with Venezuela, they may think that everyone is paper white (which is certainly not the case). It would be a great opportunity to talk about artistic styles and explore those unique to Venezuela!
This book was kindly sent by Blue Slip Media! It will be released on July 1st.
María Eugenia Manrique is one of the girls portrayed in this story. She rode the caiman when she visited her family in San Fernando de Apure. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. She studied fine art in Mexico City, specializing in xylography and engraving; Eastern painting at Nankín University, China; and sumi-e and calligraphy at the Nihon Shuji Kyoiku Zaidan Foundation in Japan. Her work has been exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. The Caiman is her first children’s book.
Ramón París was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and as a child lived in Barinas, a plains state like Apure, where he also heard the story of the caiman. He currently lives in Barcelona, Spain. Hismost recent book for children, Duermevela, was selected for the Bologna Book Fair Illustrators Exhibition. His books have been recognized with honors including Los Mejores del Banco del Libro and the IBBY Honor List, among others, and they have been translated into numerous languages.