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Costa Rica WOW!

Costa Rica Wow book coverBy Jim Parisi

When Wila the Tapir decides to follow her lifelong dream to become a professional surfer and go to Puerto Viejo to participate in the World Surfing Championship, of course, she invites her two best friends to come with her on the adventure. Her two closest friends are a coati by the name of Otto and a trogon with brilliant plumage by the name of Waldo. And so we have the introduction to “Costa Rica Wow!”, the newest book for young readers by the Costa Rica publishers Pachanga Kids, the sixth in their series.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

The adventure of the three friends begins in Parque Nacional Corcovado, in the southwestern area of the country. They plan to travel north along the Pacific Coast to Manuel Antonio, then turn right to the East, cross the middle of the country and arrive in Puerto Viejo, on the Caribbean Coast. Their plans go awry, as plans often do and the trio ends up traveling along another route, through many of the diverse and unique National Parks of Costa Rica. On their new, transformed way, they meet and befriend many other animals, indigenous to each area. There are surprises and messages about persistence, being ready to improvise, and having trust. Almost all of the animals help them, but you always have to be careful about the behavior of monkeys! 

This wonderful new book was written and illustrated by Ruth Angulo, who is already a part of the Pachanga Kids team; she has previously illustrated two books for them: “El Mar Azucarado (The Sweetened Sea)” and “El Mono Paparazzi”. In a business where typically there is a writer and a separate illustrator, Ruth has bridged the gap and I think there is a level of comfort and cohesiveness in the fact that she had complete artistic control on this project. 

The book works on a lot of different levels, the most obvious being that it is bilingual. The story is presented in Spanish on the left page, in English on the right one, in a format I call “side by side”. It is a wonderful tool for learning a new language. The book also operates as a travel guide for some of the major Costa Rican National Forests and is very informative about the geography and wildlife at each one. I particularly enjoyed the “stamps” on the periphery of each page with colorful illustrations of what you can expect to see at each park. I also thought the map of Costa Rica was a great idea, diagramming the original, intended route and the one the group of friends actually took. It is helpful, informative and fun at the same time. 

In all, I consider “Costa Rica Wow!” to be a wonderful way for parents and their children to learn about new languages, new places, new customs and new wildlife together, making reading an enjoyable family experience. And isn’t that really what it is all about?

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