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Two New Children’s Books in Costa Rica

La Danta, Amaranta, The TapirBy Jim Parisi

Amaranta the tapir lives in Santa Rosa National Park in Guanacaste. She has a keen sense of smell and many friends there. Amaranta falls in love with Flavio, who loves her too. The parrots love teasing and encouraging them.

So begins the newest children’s story “La Danta Amaranta” from Pachanga Kids in San Jose. The story is printed in Spanish and English, side-by-side, as are all the books from this publisher. The illustrations by Fabiana Obando are wonderful, colorful, playful. The storyline gently offers geographic, ecological and historic lessons along the way. For example, did you know that the tapir is a cousin to the rhinoceros, or that it has a trunk like an elephant, hooves similar to those of pigs & hair like a horse?
Jaime Peligro Books and Music

The authoress, Yazmin Ross and founder of Pachanga Kids, likes to use stories with subtle instructional tools throughout the company’s catalog, while remaining playful and humorous.

The result of the love between Amaranta and Flavio is their daughter, Tawny Light, whose “secret weapon” helps reinvigorate the park, which has been experiencing a drought. The translation in this bilingual book is by Carol Weir, who did an incredible job preserving the poetic lilt of the original text from English to Spanish.

The Happy HorseyThe second new book in Costa Rica is “The Happy Horsey” by Stanley Buffel, from Alberta, Canada. It is the story of a young colt who must stay inside the barn several months after he is born due to the intense Spring rains outside. He hears stories from about the wonders of the outside world: blue skies and white clouds, sunlight and green grass, flowers and chickens. He is naturally curious and anxious to experience all this but he has to wait. And wait. Finally, the rains stop and Happy Horsey is allowed to venture out into The World. And oh, the adventures he has…

Stan told me that his story is based upon a series of stories that his father invented for his children and eventually his grandchildren, revolving around Happy Horsey. It was a labor of love on Stan’s part to preserve his father’s legacy through “Happy Horsey”.

The Costa Rica connection is that while staying in Playa Junquillal, Stan met Faith Farthing, coincidentally also from Edmonton. Faith is a publisher, but not of children’s books. After she heard Stan’s story, she decided to help him. Faith found award-winning illustrator Tara Langlois who agreed to collaborate. All three met back in Junquillal in 2013 to mold the idea into a final presentation. Nearly all the layout, artwork and editing was done here, causing the group to refer to the book as “The Junquillal Baby”, coined by Gabriela, the owner of Surf Café in Junquillal, who now carries the book in her gallery at the café.

When completed, Stan presented copies to his family members as an Easter present. His siblings all agreed, “that’s the story I remember!” As Stan told me, “sometimes the story behind the story is as interesting as the story itself.”

Both these new Costa Rica books are available at Jaime Peligro book store in Playa Tamarindo and Jaime Peligro Books & Adventure in Quepos.

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