Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal (released March 30)

Published by Candlewick

Zonia's Rain Forest: Martinez-Neal, Juana, Martinez-Neal, Juana:  9781536208450: Amazon.com: Books
Zonia's Rain Forest: Martinez-Neal, Juana, Martinez-Neal, Juana:  9781536208450: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  “Every morning the rain forest calls to Zonia.”  Off she goes with her animal friends: playing hide-and-seek, running races, and lying quiet and still.  After a day with the animals, she’s ready to return to her parents and baby brother.  On the way home, though, she stumbles upon something she’s never seen before: the severed stumps of trees that have been cut down.  She tells her mother that the forest needs help, and her mother says it is calling to her.  “‘Then I will answer,’ says Zonia, ‘as I always do.’”  Includes additional information about the Asháninka, the largest indigenous group living in the Peruvian rain forest; a few facts about the Amazon; threats to the Amazon; and Zonia’s animal friends in order of appearance.  Spanish version also available: La Selva de Zonia. 40 pages; ages 4-8.

Pros:  This is sure to be a hit with any child who loves animals.  Zonia’s life in the rain forest looks like a lot of fun, and the animals are beautifully rendered.  The environmental message is delivered delicately, then reinforced with the excellent back matter.  Another Caldecott contender!

Cons:  I hate to mention it with all the excellent back matter, but I would have liked to have seen a map.

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