Laughter Is Contagious
In the New Pachanga Kids Book
Imagine a land where none of the citizens speak but rather communicates in colors instead. Every tint has a meaning and every hue has its own connotation. People quietly express themselves with these colors and by gestures and, of course, by their actions. The place is called the Silent Country and there is no place more beautiful.
The Costa Rican publishing house Pachanga Kids recently unveiled its newest book, simultaneously in Spanish and English, titled “La Risa Contagiosa”, or “Infectious Laughter”. The story begins as described above, with wonderful illustrations by the Venezuelan artist Maria Elena Valdez throughout the book and they play a major role in depicting the sequence of events. The story itself is the creation of Jaime Gamboa, a founding member of the popular Costa Rican band Malpais. As with all Pachanga Kids books, the storyline is not only entertaining for the young readers; it conveys a nice message for them (and their parents too) to think about after they have finished the book. Along the way, Gamboa has sprinkled the story with enough innuendos and asides to keep the adults’ interest, too. I don’t think it is a secret that least at certain times in the story, Fidel has used Costa Rica as a model for his beautiful country in transition.
Pachanga Kids launched its line of books for young readers in 2007 with “El Mar Azucarado – Sea, Sweet Sea”. It is a hardback book, printed in Spanish and English, side by side on the same page, with a CD containing the theme song in both languages as well as an instrumental version. The book was quickly embraced by the public and two subsequent books with CDs followed: “El Coyote y la Luciernaga (The Coyote and the Firefly)” and “The Mono Paparazzi”. In 2010, Pachanga Kids’ matron, Yazmin Ross unveiled three activity/coloring books based on these successful storybooks and they, too, have been very popular.
But back to 2012 and the “Infectious Laughter”. Always looking for new approaches, Pachanga Kids has released this new book in a softback edition in Spanish and English separately. In either language, the story remains memorable. When the people of Silent Country run out of tint and dyes, when the well literally runs dry, they have to find new ways to express themselves. A colorless world does not work for them, so they need to find a solution outside the parameters of their known world. After all, what good is a black & white rainbow? I’m happy to report that the citizens do indeed find a workable solution and a wonderful lesson is imparted as well.
Once again the people at Pachanga Kids are to be commended for their innovative approach and their pursuit of art and education. Their messages tend toward teaching children to collaborate and have fun doing it. The new book is the first joint venture between Pachanga and Grupo Amanuense, a Guatemalan publisher that specializes in cultural and educational material for people of all ages and walks of life; and so Pachanga Kids has built a bridge with their neighbor.
Both versions of “La Risa Contagiosa” are available at the Jaime Peligro book stores in Playa Tamarindo, Quepos, and Nuevo Arenal. Any comments concerning this review are gladly welcomed.