Review: Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Review: Zonia’s Rain Forest by Juana Martinez-Neal

Most of us, as least in North America, have never ventured into the rainforest. What animals might we find there? What plants bloom, what birds sing, and what bugs crawl through the trees? Dive into Zonia’s Rain Forest and explore the mysteries of the Peruvian Amazon through the eyes of a curious young Indigenous child.

Beautifully illustrated by the author, this children’s book follows Zonia, an Asháninka girl who never fails to see the wonder of the flora and fauna surrounding her. When she encounters a section of forest that has been clear-cut, she realizes it is time to act. The book ends on this note, a sort of call to action not only for Zonia but for all of us.

This book is fantastic, not only as a story time special, but also as an educational resource perfect for starting conversations on environmental issues like deforestation, and how this and other capitalist dangers affect Indigenous populations. Martinez-Neal includes several informative sections at the end of her book, detailing facts about the Amazon, the Asháninka, and the animals and plants featured in this colourful read. There is also a one-page translation in Asháninka and a list of online resources for those wishing to learn more.

Overall, Zonia’s Rain Forest is well-written, but its biggest value is in the way Martinez-Neal incorporates Indigenous culture, environmental protection, and natural sciences into a sweet bedtime story. This book is a must-have in every classroom and private collection!

Zonia’s Rain Forest is available through Penguin Random House or Amazon in English and Spanish.