The Manatee’s Big Day: A Bilingual Children’s Book Set in Costa Rica

I fell in love with manatees after my paddle boat – the kind you’d rent in a city park – collided with one of the gentle giants in Costa Rica’s Tortuguero canals. After that I learned everything I could about the creatures and their habitat. The result was this bilingual children’s book.

The wonderful illustrations are by Maggie Olson. The book is published by Zona Tropical Publications

Description: The Manatee’s Big Day is a story for young readers that takes place in the rainforests and waterways of Costa Rica. Presented in a bilingual format (English and Spanish), the action-filled adventures of the young manatee and her animal friends interweave information about the natural world, specifically the canals of Tortuguero, a picturesque town on the northern Caribbean shores of Costa Rica.

In addition to the story itself, the back of the book includes a section entitled “Fun Science Facts,” an illustrated guide to some of the creatures that occur in the story that also explains the difference between a food chain and a food web. Teachers and young readers alike will take special interest in this section. Other supplemental information includes an “Explorer’s English-Spanish Dictionary” and a map of the town of Tortuguero, along with a description of the neighboring national park.

With illustrations worthy of the classic fairy tales and a story written in a poetic style that never underestimates the intelligence of the young reader, this is a must for kids who want to learn about tropical nature, visit Costa Rica, or learn a second language.

From a review by Robert Isenberg of the Tico Times.
“Manatee” is valuable as a bilingual book, as well as an introduction to Costa Rica’s abundant wildlife. Van Rheenen provides an additional 20 pages of animal dossiers, a food chain diagram and a guide to Tortuguero National Park. Each page showcases the colorful illustrations of Maggie Olson, who draws the animals more or less as they exist in the wild — not as gussied-up cartoon characters.