The Caiman (María Eugenia Manrique)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Caiman, written by María Eugenia Manrique, illustrated by Ramón París and translated by Amy Brill, a touching true story of a unique friendship.

Next to the town of San Fernando de Apure, there winds a wide river, filled with alligators and the men who hunt them for their skins. When children playing beside the river find an abandoned baby alligator (a caiman), the local jeweler and watchmaker – Faoro – offers to adopt the creature. Small enough to curl into the palm of his hand and dark-scaled, he names her “Night”, and the two develop deep devotion as Night grows… and grows… and GROWS. As Faoro works, fills his home with more animals, and even falls in love and marries, Night is by his side as his loyal companion. Years later, when Faoro grows sick and passes away, his dear caiman is left behind to mourn. But she is not alone in her grief, for she was never alone in her love for her friend.

Beautiful. Based on the true story of Faoro and his caiman, this tale of the bond between man and animal is filled with amusement, sweetness, and surprisingly poignant emotion. While the wisdom of keeping a pet caiman is HIGHLY debatable (Night eventually grows to be 10 feet long), one cannot deny the heartwarming bond between Night and Faoro, aided greatly by París’s gorgeously lush and engaging artwork; even the unique size of the book helps tell the story, framing most of the illustrations from the low and wide viewpoint of an alligator. The length is perfect for a storytime, JJ loved this one, and even I was wiping away a tear by the end. A truly novel tale, uncomplicated and uplifting, just as unconditional love should be. Emphatically Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

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