The primary appeal of Adventure is in Alonzo Cortés’ thirty-plus paintings of Pico Bonito’s colorful residents. Her butterflies and beetles burst from the page; her jaguars and snakes stir a sense of respect and mystery rather than fear; and with thick brushstrokes and inspired layerings of paints she evokes the textures of the plumage of her aracari and hummingbirds. The storytelling is less accomplished and more generic, and it’s done no favors by the book’s layout, which presents many of these paintings in one section, in the middle of the story, a point of disconnection between the narrative and the imagery.
That layout encourages readers to take in the few pages of prose in somewhat lengthy bursts, with the paintings coming pages later, after the story has moved on. Since those animals and incidents are at times vaguely described, the story doesn’t fire the imagination as powerfully as it would if text and paintings worked in unison. In prose, this trek into the majesty of nature is sweet but not inspired. The paintings, though, will bring readers to that beautiful peak.
Takeaway: Dynamic paintings of rain forest wildlife make this picture book journey into a Honduras park a memorable trip
Great for fans of: Yossi Lapid’s Yara's Tamari Tree, Anthony D. Fredericks’ A is for Anaconda: A Rainforest Alphabet
Design and typography: C
Marketing copy: B+
A brother and sister enjoy the animals, plants, and scenery of the Honduran rainforest in this children’s book.
Honduran siblings Olguita and Oscarito have studied the rainforest in school, but now they’re actually going to see it in person for the first time. Their parents are taking them to Pico Bonito National Park, which shelters many endangered species. Pablo, their tour guide, takes the family on a long, steep hike over some challenging terrain. The jungle can be alarming, with rushing streams to ford and scary animals, like snakes. There’s also fun to be had. The kids get to swing on “monkey ladders”—strong vines that twine up into the trees. At a giant waterfall, Olguita and Oscarito enjoy a swim in a shallow pool before everyone sits down to a sandwich lunch, with tropical fruits (fresh oranges and rambutan) for dessert. Pablo tells the family about why it’s so important to protect indigenous plants and animals through conservation. “All life deserves respect,” he explains. And there’s another reason to protect wild places: Parks like Pico Bonito contribute to the economy via tourism. Having thoroughly enjoyed their adventure, the family returns to the lodge for a good night’s sleep. Alonzo Cortés debut, translated by Gomez, encourages kids to appreciate the artistry of nature and to take responsibility for helping to safeguard it. The adventure format provides excitement and helps keep the book from being preachy while teaching important lessons. A large portion of the book consists of the author’s oil-painting illustrations, which highlight the rainforest’s lush variety. Alonzo Cortés employs a naïve style that goes well with the kid’s-eye view, and her dynamic brush strokes in vivid, saturated colors capture the floral and faunal vibrancy.
A lively, richly illustrated introduction to conservation.