White Ravens: Venezuela

18 books      

Venezuela (Spanish) - 1996 - 170
Rivas, Ivonne (text)
Savino, Irene (illus.)
El dueño de la luz
(The Lord of Light)
Caracas: Ekaré, 1995. [36] p.
ISBN 980-257-104-0
Venezuela/Warrau/Legend - Light - Creation myth
This book is based on a legend of the Warao, a tribe living in the area of the Orinoco Delta. It tells how light was given to the people who had lived in darkness and how it came about that the sun and the moon »circle the earth.« The short text is very poetic and forms a highly successful whole with the unusual illustrations. In these atmospheric pictures the focus is not on people but rather on the real protagonists of the story, darkness and lightness, night and day, reflected light, mirror images and water as the living space of the Warran. (8+) ☆

Venezuela (Spanish) - 1996 - 171
Tabuas, Mireya (text)
Keller, Cristina (illus.)
Gato Encerrado
(The Locked-up Cat)
Caracas: Monte Avila, 1995. 64 p.
(Primera Dimensión; Serie azul)
ISBN 980-01-0880-7
Cat - Disappearance - Search
A young boy tries to find out what has happened to the cat that had always visited him on Mondays until two weeks ago. He goes about the task like a real detective, making up a list of the suspects and making inquiries by the rest of the residents in the building. Surprisingly, everyone of them is also missing a cat. It turns out to be the very same cat, which is found at last, unharmed, with seven newborn kittens. This clearly structured story is told by the main character in a humorous, breezy manner. (8+) ☼

Special Mention - Venezuela (Spanish) - 1997 - 179
Cotte, Carlos (illus.)
Chumba la cachumba
(<Nonsense song>)
Caracas: Ekaré, 1995. 28 p.
(Colección Clave de sol; Canciones tradicionales para cantar y contar)
ISBN 980-257-114-8
Venezuela/Folk song - Cemetery - Skeleton
Thirteen verses of a traditional Venezuelan nonsense song give structure to this amusing and very originally designed picture book. The catchy rhythm of the monotonous melody encourage everyone to sing along, to dance and clap along. The rhythm is also evident in the dynamic of the double-sided illustrations, which are a mixed technique of computer graphic and hand-painted pictures. The song gives answer to the question as to how the dead keep from being bored to death. They let their imagination run wild, they put on plays, dance and sing. These pale, boney figures dance their funny-scary roundabouts against the background of the cemetery with its stylized, interlocking crosses and gravestones in varying shades of grey under a petroleum green sky, facing the eye of the beholder as if on a stage or in front of a camera. Between the grotesque contortions, grimaces and funny props the adult reader will discover sophisticated citations from literature, art and popular culture such as the Mona Lisa or the Infanta from Velázquez's »Las Meninas«. The most irreverent reference is surely the parody of Da Vinci's »The Last Supper« in which the skeletons are found devouring tasty deserts while in the background a stained-glass window portrays the saints of our modern consumer society: sport heros and Mickey Mouse. (3+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 1998 - 172
Calderón, Gloria (illus.)
Mambrú se fue a la guerra
(Mambrú went to war)
Caracas: Ed. Ekaré, 1996. [28] p.
(Colección clave de sol; Canciones tradicionales para cantar y contar)
ISBN 980-257-166-0
War - Soldier - Farewell - Longing - Death - Grief
The well-known folk song about the bridegroom who must go to war on the day of his wedding and never returns home inspired the illustrator to tell the story in colored linocuts in which animals play the human parts. The reserved facial expressions and gestures and the dark, blue-toned night colors permeate the illustrations with a melancholy atmosphere, which contrasts the cheery, rhythmical melody of the song. Easily decipherable symbols (rose, letter, ship, etc.) elucidate the message of this story of love, faithfulness, longing, death and grief. (4+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 1999 - 181
Krahn, Fernando (text/illus.)
Bernardo y Canelo
(Bernardo and Canelo <proper names>)
Caracas: Ed. Ekaré, 1998. [28] p.
(El jardín de los niños)
ISBN 980-257-207-1
Circus - Performance artists - Dog - Friendship
Bernardo and his little dog Canelo return home very impressed from a circus performance. While Bernardo has his mother sew him a costume and begins to practice juggling enthusiastically, though rather unsuccessfully, Canelo begins his training in secret. When he disappears one day without a trace, the intensive search ends finally at the circus with a happy reunion. Fernando Krahn tells this story step by step in easily understandable pictures that would be clear even without the brief text. The black-and-white illustrations have flat overlays in the basic colors of red, yellow and light blue in the style of the 1950s. This makes for a bright and cheery tale. (3+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 1999 - 182
Lima, Chely (text)
Rodríguez, Juan (illus.)
El cerdito que amaba el Ballet
(The piglet who loved ballet)
Caracas: Monte Ávila Ed. Latinoamericana, 1998. 33 p.
(Primera dimensión : Serie dorada)
ISBN 980-01-1035-6
Pig - Ballet - Career wish - Self-fulfillment
A piglet worships a prima ballerina and hopes with all its heart to become a ballerina, too. Although the family declares it insane, the piglet tries to enroll in the dance academy but finally has to accept that it has not got the right constitution. In order to be near the adored dancer, there is an alternative. Piglet chooses to become an accomplished photographer of dance. The Cuban author tells the story of someone who does not give up easily, and demonstrates much empathy for the determined protagonist. Brisk, cartoon-like color sketches accompany this witty story. (5+)
(Premio Internacional de Literatura Infantil »Juan Rulfo«, 1996)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2000 - 170
Faría, Rosana (illus.)
El adivino. Cuento popular
(The seer. A folk tale)
Maracay, estado Aragua: Playco Ed., 1998. [36] p.
ISBN 980-6437-00-4
Farmer - Social advancement - Trickery - Naïveté - Seer
In this traditional Latin American story a farmer declares that he is a seer and claims he can trace down things that have been lost. His bragging brings him into difficulties, but in a perfect pícaroon-like mixture of insolence, trickery, naïveté and luck that is common to the Hispanic storytelling tradition he even wins favor with the viceroy. Rosana Faría illustrates the humorous story with small black-and-white drawings and full-page color pictures done in soft, warm pastels. The exaggerated gestures and expressions capture well the different prototypical characters of this burlesque tale. (8+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2000 - 171
Urdaneta, Romer (reteller)
Rondón, Javier (illus.)
González Uliana, Jorge (transl.)
Kaarai el alcaraván. Literatura wayuu
(Kaarai the alcaraván bird. A Wayuu tale)
Caracas: Ed. Tinta, Papel y Vida, 1998. 35 p.
(Colección delfín : Serie indígenas)
(Text Spanish and Wayuu)
ISBN 980-6148-71-1
Wayuu/Myth - Sun - Light - Bird - Punishment
Throughout the world there are myths and tales that explain natural phenomenon in surprisingly simple and imaginative ways. Why, for example, does the Kaari - a bird found in Venezuela - have such long legs but is not able to fly? Because, according to the Wayuu tribe, it tried to steal the light of the sun god Ka'i. He pursued the bird, pulled on its legs and condemned it to spend its whole life earthbound. The publishing house Tinta, Papel y Vida has taken a special interest in making the language and cultures of the Venezuelan aborigines more familiar. Along with the illustrated Spanish version of the story, the original text is included in an appendix, as well as basic information about the Wayuu tribe. (6+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2001 - 174
Cottin, Menena (text/illus.)
Al revés
Caracas : Camelia Ed., 1999. [32] p.
ISBN 980-6450-01-9
House - Upside-down-world <motif>
What would happen if everything suddenly stood on its head? A girl walks about day-dreaming through the upside-down-world of her familiar home. The chandelier looks like a tree, the shower rains upwards, and the stairs go up, down, or up-down? A strikingly simple idea inspired the illustrator to create a charming story, taking the onlookers on a little discovery tour and inviting them to keep on raving in this topsy-turvy world. »Upside-down«, originally an animated cartoon, now is published as a book with realistic, soft-coloured pencil drawings. (3+)

Special Mention - Venezuela (Spanish) - 2001 - 175
Skármeta, Antonio (text)
Ruano, Alfonso (illus.)
La composición
(The composition)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2000. 36 p.
ISBN 980-257-215-2
Dictatorship - Suppression - Police state - Betrayal
The text by the famous Chilean author, originally written as a radio play, is published for the first time as a book. The story, which surely incorporates autobiographical elements of the author who lived in exile for many years, is set in a not further specified military dictatorship. Schoolboy Pedro knows that his parents oppose the regime and secretly listen to forbidden radio stations in the evening. Danger looms when an officer comes to the school and commands the children to write a composition on the evening pass-times of their family. The dramatic tension of Skármeta's story very gradually rises with the build-up of the atmosphere, suddenly to be released at the very end, when one understands that Pedro has instinctively decided against the truth, and thereby against betraying his parents. The realistic illustrations seem like frozen moments. Their static and serious nature captures the inner state of a society paralysed with fear, violence and denunciation. (9+) ☼

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2002 - 171
Garmendia, Salvador (text)
Faría, Rosana (illus.)
El turpial que vivió dos veces
(The trupial <yellow-breasted oriole> that lived twice)
Maracay, estado Aragua : Playco Ed., [2001]. [44] p.
ISBN 980-6437-12-8
Birds – Trupial – Freedom – Protection of animals
This picture book relates the simple and touching story of a colourful trupial, which is taken into captivity and regains freedom. Told from the bird's point of view, the retrospective narrative focuses on the change of the boy, who shoots the bird down from a tree with a sling, puts it in a cage, and finally, of his own free will, releases it. The delicate double-spread colour illustrations, partly on white, partly on brown paper, perfectly capture the story's changing settings and shifting moods. Narrowing their focus from the vast Venezuelan savannah to the confined space of the dark cage and widening it again for the final scenes out in the open nature, they visualise the book's message in an attractive and convincing way. (6+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2003 - 171
Martínez, Rocío (text/illus.)
Matías dibuja el sol
(Matías draws the sun)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2002. [24] p.
(El jardín de los niños)
ISBN 980-257-261-6
Artist – Art – Preference – Interpretation – Artistic Dispute
This is the third title of a series with stories about Matías, a mole with great talent and passion for art. In this volume, the artist wants to draw the sun. It takes several attempts before he is happy with his work – only to find out that his friends, goose, frog, and hamster, prefer the neglected »rejects« over his own favourite picture. That’s what art is all about: Everybody associates different memories and emotions with it: where one sees an egg, another sees the moon’s reflection, and a third an entry to a cave. The cheerful, brightly coloured picture book clearly teaches children in a sympathetic and simple way that art is always subject to dispute. (4+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2003 - 172
Rodríguez, Lucho (text/illus.)
ABZoo : abecedario zoológico
(ABZoo : a zoological alphabet)
Maracay, estado Aragua : Playco Ed., 2001. [32] p.
(Los mejores de Playco)
ISBN 980-6437-21-7
Animals – Alphabet
ABC-books are a particularly popular genre in children’s literature, and among them, animalalphabets undoubtedly form one of the favourite group. In this example, it is not so much the brief, informative texts, but rather the illustrations and the overall design which make this book stand out. For each letter of the alphabet, a wild animal is introduced: quetzal, tapir, wapiti, fox, and other animals from five continents. The characteristic physiognomy of every animal is appropriately depicted in a stylised form by the artist, who masterly works with simple shapes and pure colours. Small blackand- white vignettes and an aesthetic typography visually round off this beautiful book published in an unusual portrait format. (4+)

Special Mention - Venezuela (Spanish) - 2004 - 164
Sáez Castán, Javier (text/illus.)
Los tres erizos : pantomima en dos actos con colofón
(The three hedgehogs : farce in two acts with colophon)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2003. [36] p.
(Colección Ponte Poronte)
ISBN 980-257-297-7. - 84-933060-0-2
Hedgehog – Apple – Food – Trial – Justice
Three hedgehogs raid an apple-orchard for windfalls. »Revenge!« scream the people. Once they finish hibernating and leave their cosy cave, the culprits will be in for it. But they are lucky because just then, a little apple tree they ‘planted’ decides to push its head through the earth. The benefactors shall be pardoned! Overwhelming emotions, medals, happy end! This unconventional picture book owes its exuberant originality to the discrepancy between the simplicity of the pseudodidactic tale, its subdued tone, and the warm, quiet illustrations on the one hand and its elaborate form and many literary allusions on the other. Javier Sáez Castán quotes elements of classicist drama or adds banners with Latin or French inscriptions as comments to imitate medieval paintings and ends up producing an intelligent ironic farce that can be appreciated by child and adult readers on very different levels. (6+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2005 - 164
Polo, Eduardo (text)
Ballester, Arnal (illus.)
Chamario : libro de rimas para niños
(Chamario : book of verses for children)
Caracas : Ed. Ekaré, 2004. 47 p.
(Colección rimas y adivinanzas)
ISBN 980-257-278-0
Children’s poetry – Pun
This square little book stands out for its attractive design and the exquisite combination of text and pictures. A dancing hippo, a clumsy rider, or a scorpion playing piano – these are just a few of the many characters featuring in the 20 poems, whose real protagonist is language itself and the pleasure of playing with it. By swapping and pushing around syllables and words, surprising new combinations come into existence. They illustrate the never-ending possibilities of language and invite readers the join the game while the highly graphical, playful illustrations underline the poems’ absurd tone. This book fits in well with Ediciones Ekaré’s general intention of providing attractive volumes of poetry, rhymes, and songs for children. (6+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2006 - 167
Espinoza, Gerald (text/illus.)
Gallo Galí Galo
(The cock Gali Galo)
Caracas : Camelia Ed., 2004. [28] p.
ISBN 980-6450-20-5
Cock Gali Galo is a very special representative of his species: an animal with two heads or could it be two animals in one body? Be that as it may, both of them are headstrong and have very different views of the world around them. Each double page in this picture book presents a moment in the life of Gali and Galo. One gets up too late, the other too early, one finds the teacher attractive, the other considers her rather ugly, one feels comfortable, the other wants to go home. Gerald Espinoza captures the odd couple’s experiences in strongly coloured pictures, which focus on the amusing, partly absurd pairs of opposites depicting them in a more or less abstract way, and inspire readers to come up with their own examples. (3+)

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2006 - 168
Franco, Mercedes (text)
Salvador, Carmen (illus.)
Criaturas fantásticas de América
(Imaginary creatures from America)
Maracay : Playco Ed., 2004. 33 p.
ISBN 980-6437-57-8
America Mythical creatures
Who knows the big-footed Sasquatch, the gnome Zipito, or the lizard-like Güije? For thousands of years, with their boundless imagination and pleasure in telling stories, people have conjured up a huge variety of mythical creatures, often used to explain magical and mysterious phenomena. Quite naturally, both Americas abound with creatures from indigenous traditions as well as those shaped by European and African influences. This volume introduces sixteen mythical creatures from as many American countries, from Canada down to Chile. Each double page presents a descriptive text and a colour illustration, which shows each being in its typical context. This attractive and informative book enables readers to meet a flock of fascinating creatures. (7+) ☆

Venezuela (Spanish) - 2007 - 167
Bergna, Mónica (adapt.)
Vanden Broeck, Fabricio (illus.)
La Cucaracha
(The cockroach <Song title>)
Caracas : Camelia Ed., 2006. [24] p.
ISBN 980-6450-38-8
Cockroach – Folk song
The song »La Cucaracha«, the origins of which can be traced back to 15th-century Spain, is well known around the world in various versions. It gained particular popularity during the Mexican revolution when it was sung as political mockery of an odious general. In this new adaptation with catchy nonsensical verses, the disagreeable cockroach is joined by crickets, mice, vultures, and other animals that are all clad in the garments of »caballeros«, »señoras«, generals, priests, revolutionaries, and farm workers from the early 20th century. The figures, drawn with bold dynamic lines, are set against an empty brown background lending them a powerful presence. This burlesque picture book allows different readings according to the readers’ age. (6+)