Valentina is born a Galápagos girl, a galapagueña, and experiences the joy of growing up among the unique wildlife the Galápagos have to offer.
Arnold has penned a poetic love letter to the spectacular wildlife of the Galápagos, inspired by Valentina Cruz, a biologist and conservationist. From blue-footed boobies to tortoises and even penguins, the islands seem to have it all. Readers will enjoy this quiet story of a young girl who finds not only a love of nature, but a way to come home to it again after study overseas, to protect it, and to share it with the world. Angela Dominguez’s precise and clean but lively and colorful illustrations really bring everything to life and pull the book together. Young readers wanting more will find extensive backmatter with information about the real Valentina as well as all of the animals they meet within the pages. The text is in English and repeated in Adriana Domínguez’s Spanish translation, which results in sometimes-crowded pages. Readers may find themselves wishing for two separate editions. More a celebration of the Galápagos wildlife and a call to action than a traditional story, the book will fascinate readers with Valentina’s magical island life, and they will wish for nothing more than to swim with manta rays themselves.
A timely lesson of conservation that will get kids looking at the wildlife around them and saying, “We will not forget you. And we will keep you safe.” (author’s note, Galápagos facts, bibliography) (Picture book. 4-8)