Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Coyote and the Firefly

The Coyote and the Firefly

   A solitary coyote sleeping in his cave is awakened by a firefly that entered his home. So he eats the poor firefly. The only problem is that now, when he sings, the coyote’s voice lights up the nightsky. People come from all over to witness this amazing event, and the poor coyote can never be alone in his cave again.

   This is the premise for a lullaby by Guanacastecan Max Goldenberg that Pachanga Kids decided to use for their new children’s book, “The Coyote and the Firefly”. The story used in the book was written by noted Mexican authoress (“The Black Fleet”) and longtime Papaya Music participant Yazmin Ross. The English translation was handled by poet Elliot Greenspan, who also writes Frommer’s travel guides for Costa Rica, Belize, Venezuela and Panama. Updating each of these guides every year has made Elliot a little crazy…
      The storyline changes a bit from the song to the story and I don’t want to give anything away, so let’s just say that the firefly doesn’t die. The fairytale is presented in Spanish and English concurrently, a real asset for the book. All the illustrations are done by acclaimed Costa Rican artist Ruth Angulo. A nice touch in the graphics comes in the naming in Spanish of each of the various plants and animals below its illustration. Typical of Papaya and Pachanga Kids productions, it is a true collaboration done with attention to detail. Even the paper on which the book is printed is of excellent stock.

   A great added bonus is the CD that comes in the package attached to the back of the hardbound jacket. It contains three versions of the original Max Goldenberg lullaby/waltz. The first rendition is in Spanish; while the second is done in English by Elliot Greenspan, a recognized poet and musician on his own, whose voice seems to have been born to sing this lullaby. The last version is instrumental, Karaoke style, complete with a bilingual lyric sheet. By the way, Max Goldenberg is an uncle of Fidel and Jaime Gamboa, the brothers who founded Malpais. They perform (guitar and bass) on the songs, along with Ivan and Giovanni Rodriguez (violin and guitar), also of Malpais fame, and William Ramos on marimbas. Why not get the kids started with quality music, after all? The recording is actually very clean, not some throw-away backdrop tune.
   Pachanga Kids is a new publishing house in Costa Rica that works closely with Papaya Music. And “El Mar Azucarado (Sea Sweet Sea)” was their first title, released in 2006. Upcoming projects include “The Monkey Paparazzi in the Rain Forest” and “In Search of the Golden Toad” and my favorite, La Danta Amaranta (The Loveable Tapir). Pachanga Kids is a Costa Rican venture whose goal is to have fun as they instruct children about the advantageous of being bilingual, while teaching them about the wildlife that inhabits the tropics. It is a collective, team effort of authors, illustrators, musicians, composers along with a variety of other kids who never really completely grew up. And I mean that in a very good way.

   All Papaya CDs and Pachanga Kids books are available at Jaime Peligro in Playa Tamarindo, Quepos and Nuevo Arenal.All comments concerning this article are gladly welcomed.