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The Caiman
Author: María Eugenia Manrique
Illustrator: Ramón París
Translator: Amy Brill
Published: July 1, 2021 by Amazon Crossing Kids

Summary: The unforgettable story of a man and his alligator.

When Faoro the clockmaker adopts a baby alligator, he has no idea that someday their story will travel far and wide. But the town of San Fernando de Apure would never forget this kind young man and his adoring alligator, who played with the neighborhood children, took part in Faoro’s wedding, and, eventually, mourned his loss. Now their story is being shared with the world.

In this delightful picture book first published in Venezuela, the author brings us back to her own childhood in Venezuela, as one of the children who used to visit this famous caiman, to tell the story of a man who loved animals and how his friendship with his alligator sparked a lasting legacy.

A New York Times Globetrotting Pick!

★“The striking illustrations…have a wild and whimsical feel about them, featuring lush foliage and expressive characters, including the eventually enormous caiman. It’s a memorable and unexpected demonstration of the universality of love, grief, and kindness.” —Booklist (starred review)

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. For more information, visit her website: https://mariaeugeniamanrique.wordpress.com/.

Instagram: @mem.manrique

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. Visit him at: ramon.paris.

Instagram: @ramon_paris_ilustrador

Amy Brill’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications including the Washington Post, Medium, Real Simple, Oprah.com, and One Story. Her first novel, The Movement of Stars, was published by Riverhead Books. A native New Yorker, Amy lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.

Ricki’s Review: It’s NONFICTION. I read this book and couldn’t believe that the story was true, and it made me love it even more! The author beautifully tells the story of Jose Faoro, who adopts a baby alligator when it is just days old. My children have always dreamed of adopting a large animal such as this, so it offered a wonderfully intriguing read. Although, I might add that they now think that we can take in an alligator in our house (ha!). This is the story of a great man who loved animals and loved those around him. I absolutely adored the gentle telling, and it felt like a book that would be translated because children all over the world would be captivated by this story. The illustrations stand out to me because they are timeless. They feel contemporary to my boys, but they also filled my heart with a softness because they reminded me of the classic illustrations of the stories I read and loved as a child. Ahhh, I just adore this book.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This book is accessible to all levels, but I’d love to see it in elementary school classrooms, where teachers ask their students to research examples of other people who did something out of the ordinary. They could write their own picture books.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the words and illustrations work together to form a cohesive story?
  • Does Faoro’s story surprise you? Why or why not?
  • What does Faoro’s life tell you about him?
  • What did you learn from the story?

Flagged Passages: 

Read This If You Love: Nonfiction Picture Books; Timeless Stories; Books about Animals

Giveaway:

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**Thank you to Barbara at Blue Slip Media for Providing a Copy for Review!**

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5 Responses to Review and Giveaway: The Caiman by María Eugenia Manrique, Illustrated by Ramón París, Translated by Amy Brill

  1. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    I keep hearing great things about this picture book, and your review makes it sound even better! It is so surprising that this is based on a true story. Thanks so much for the great review!

  2. Linda Baie says:

    I just saw about this book recently & you’ve made me more excited to read it. Having vacationed where there are alligators, it seems unbelievable! Thanks, Ricki!

  3. danielle hammelef says:

    I can’t believe this is a true story! I’m a nonfiction picture book lover and this one is now high on my list after your glowing review. I need to learn more about their relationship that sounds incredible.

  4. John Smith says:

    “After reading this review, what are you most excited about?” Caimans! And fascinating illustrations! And reading the book!

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