Saludos todos y boa tarde gente! I’m stopping in outside of my normal Monday book reviews to bring you some awesome additional content! Today I have two great books to share that were lent to me by Dr. Leila Lehnen from UNM’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese. The books are written by Brazilian authors, and I’m sharing them with you here in an effort to draw more attention to international children’s books and authors from other countries.
Part of my inspiration writing this post comes from my recent effort to learn Portuguese through an intensive course that I took in Rio this summer. Later in the year I’ll feature some kid’s books that I bought myself while in Brazil. These titles may be hard to get a hold of from the United States, but not impossible. Our hope is to highlight these books to expand our discussion beyond US-based authors’ renditions of Latin America and to pique your interest in or stimulate a discussion on international children’s books.
Before I get started reviewing our two books for today, I wanted to give you all a bit of information about Brazilian children’s literature in general. According to Publishing Perspectives, “the children’s book market in Brazil is the biggest in the industry.” Moreover, 2016 is an important year for the children’s book industry in Brazil, since Brazil will be sponsoring the annual International Day for Celebration of Children’s Books, founded by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY). Brazilian author, Luciana Sandroni, has been commissioned to write a children’s book specifically for the occasion. As the children’s book scene in Brazil is abounding, we are left wondering why so few of these books make their way to the United States? With these additional posts we hope to bring you diverse, underrepresented books, broaden the horizons of children’s literature in the United States and simply share with you these lovely works.
The first book is called A Lua Cheia de Vento, written by Mel Adun and illustrated by Reane Lisboa, and the second one is called Maju, A Princesa do Tempo, written by Aciomar de Oliviera and illustrated by Carmen Munhoz.
A Lua Cheia do Vento focuses on a young, female protagonist, and the romance that develops between two young characters from different parts of the land. At first, the young girl is scared of the boy who comes to drink water from the lake that she calls home, since she never leaves the lake and never meets strangers; but she soon becomes enamored by him. The story continues, with a few plot twists—primarily, the disapproving looks of the fish and other inhabitants of the land—into an endearing love story. At the end of the story, the young boy, Ventania, who is actually the prince of wind, sweeps the young girl, Gotinha, up in a strong gust and flies with her through the nighttime stars. This is how Gotinha becomes the moon and together she and the prince of wind can escape the judging gazes of earth’s inhabitants and live together in the sky. Finally, we learn how the moon became full of wind, as the title reads in Portuguese, “A Lua Cheio de Vento.” This phrase also has a double meaning: either the moon is full of wind, or the moon is full because of the wind. In either sense, this imagery illustrates how the two are lovingly intertwined, and how the moon is in her most complete form when she is with the wind.
Maju, a Princesa do Tempo is a lovely story about a young princess with “robes the color of the moon and tinged the color of the sun, with her fairy voice and her skin the color of passionate night” (for the record, these are my own translations). The princess controls the weather and alerts the sun when to rise and when to set. The gorgeous watercolor illustrations take us through various, fantastical landscapes, where Maju greets the sky and the ocean, “a marvelous day for everyone!” Whenever the wind starts to blow strong gusts of wind, Maju warns all the people to protect them from the wind’s strength. This beautiful story and its equally beautiful illustrations place a female protagonist in a position of agency and power, and, although young, she is a goddess of the land, and an equalizing force amongst nature’s volatile whims.
Both of these books are stunning and certainly worth a gander. I hope you’ve enjoyed this extra post– stay tuned for many more to come!