¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z!

Olinguito, from A to Z!

¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! childrens book by lulu delacre


Alto, allá arriba en los Andes brilla un bosque bordado de bromelias…
High up in the Andes blooms a brilliant forest embroidered with bromeliads . . .

With lyrical text in both Spanish and English, we travel to the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. Not your usual ABC book, the alphabet is an organizing feature to introduce children to rich vocabulary as they learn about a unique environment.

Thoroughly researched and exquisitely illustrated with colorful, realistic images, the book is a visual delight while it provides a wealth of information. Backmatter includes articles about cloud forests and the discovery of the olinguito in 2013, and an extensive glossary with the scientific names of the species pictured. This is a unique book to treasure on many levels.


The process



What happens when you realize there are 17,000 English language alphabet books and only 17 Spanish language ones in a country where 13% of the population are native Spanish speakers? 

You decide there is room for one additional Spanish language alphabet book. That’s what happens. 

Finding  the right vehicle to create this new bilingual picture book highlighting the Spanish alphabet was not easy. I wanted it to be as intriguing and interesting to Spanish speakers as to English ones. I wanted this book to be a one that begs to be read by all kinds of kids. 

When the Washington Post announced the discovery of the olinguito, the newest carnivore dwelling in the cloud forest of Ecuador, I knew I had found my "O". Now I just needed to find the other 27 letters of the Spanish alphabet among the flora and fauna that coexists with the olinguito in the Western Andes of Ecuador. 


In creating the illustrations, I wanted to give readers a clear, detailed, and scientifically accurate view of the amazing species found in the cloud forest. Yet the forest’s thick vegetation and constant cover of mist and fog presented a challenge. My solution was to remove the clouds and limit the vegetation. I then represented the fog and mist with squares of translucent paper framing the alphabet letters. This allowed the species to be in plain sight. Inspired by scientific illustration, I created precise paintings in a graphic style. I added collage elements that recreated, in a controlled way, the natural layers that define the forest.

Selecting the species to animate the text involved consultation with many experts. The chosen species needed to live in the cloud forest of Ecuador and coexist in the olinguito’s range in the western Andes. It took seven months to identify an appropriate tarantula for the text. I talked with nine scientists and naturalists to determine that Pamphobeteus augusti fit all my criteria. To research the forest, I spent four days in olinguito country in Ecuador. There I saw and photographed an olinguito! I also gathered plant specimens during my long hikes. I used the specimens to create printed patterns and collages for the illustrations. 

I came back from my trip amazed at the interconnectedness among all life-forms in the cloud forest, and with a deep respect for what these rich places mean to humans and the earth. After the book’s publication I plan to remove the silhouettes of the zoologist that I temporarily taped to the pictures. This is my way of saying, “Let’s tread lightly in such marvelous and magical habitats.” —L.D.





45 min. Learn about the discovery of the Olinguito, its habitat in the cloud forest and the research behind this bilingual book. Kids will marvel at the flora and fauna that coexist with the Olinguito, from a rare Pinocchio lizard to the spectacled bear. Peek at the striking mixed media art and how it was made with real leaves from the forest in Ecuador! This program will spark the imagination of children and prompt them to learn more about the amazing species that live an interconnected life in the cloud forest. This versatile selection can be tailored either for grades K-4 as described above or older audiences focusing on the extensive research and the challenge of creating lyrical text in two languages.



reviews + AWARDS

NCTE Orbis Pictus Honor Book
NCTE Notable in the Language Arts
ALA Notable for All Ages
Riverby Award
Kirkus Best Books
Washington Post Best Books
New York Public Libraries Best Books
Huffington Post Best Books, Honorable Mention
Kojo Nnamdi Show’s Winter Reading List
Kirkus Starred Review
School Library Journal Starred Review
Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Booklist Starred Review
Junior Library Guild Selection
BookLinks Lasting Connections
Capitol Choices
ALSC Summer Reading List
Horn Book Summer Reading List
Tejas Star Reading List
International Latino Book Award Finalist

★“A rich and layered trip to the Andean cloud forest that revels in the miracles of biodiversity.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review

★“Poetic and informative, a breath of fresh air….” –Kirkus, starred review

★“Vibrant and Striking.” –School Library Journal, starred review

★“…executed with uncommon skill.” –Bookliststarred review

“ …splendid, more-than-an-alphabet book.” –The Washington Post