Jungle Tales (Cuentos de la Selva) is a collection of eight short stories that was published in 1918 to great success. To this day children in elementary schools across all Latin America read this book as a part of their curriculum.
The book has inspired artists in almost all fields; painting, theater, music and most famously to an animated version filmed in the sixties by the Cuban Film Institute and a CGI adaptation made in Argentina in 2009, directed by Norman Ruiz and Liliana Romero.
In these stories, Horacio Quiroga captures the magic of the jungle, which is the scene of exciting adventures illuminated by nature in all its splendor. A place where snakes throw glamorous parties with flamingos, stingrays join forces to fight off man-eating jaguars, and a giant tortoise carries a wounded man on its shell for hundreds of kilometers to bring him to safety.
Quiroga wrote these stories in a language fresh and full of humor. They delight both children and adults, awaken the love of reading and encourage respect for nature. Quiroga was supporting environmental protection over 100 years ago and the morals in these stories are even more relevant today.
Some comments from readers about Cuentos de la Selva:
Debora (Argentina)- I read this book when I was a little girl and when I had my own children I read it to them.
Daniela (Argentina) - What a great project! Did you know that this week I started reading the book to my son? He told me: “But this book doesn’t have pictures!”
Matt (UK) - Dude I love this book -- the very first one I ever read properly in Spanish...
Marcel (Argentina) - “Las medias de los flamencos” ( The Flamingo’s Stockings, one of the stories) made a huge impact on me when I was a child”
Luis (Argentina) - It was the first book I read.
Cuentos de la Selva has been translated to more than 10 languages including Icelandic, French, Italian, Romanian, Bulgarian, Hungarian, Swedish and Russian. Below are some quotes that show how universal these stories really are.
Italy: “Quiroga knew how to speak to children and above all he understood that the relationship with animals is valuable to humans and that even if many of us have forgotten it, performing an act of generosity comes with its own reward.” (www.wuz.it/archivio/cafeletterario.it/309/index3_n.htm)
Russia: "This book is not just children's entertainment. The stories give a true understanding of nature. Not only do children learn about new animals, but they are also introduced to the complex relationship between humans and nature." (librari.org.ua)
Hungary: “This book was one of my favorites when I was a child and I still enjoy reading it as an adult” (konyvmutatvanyosok.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/mit-olvasunk-mi-a-nyaron/)
The Giant Tortoise: A man living in the jungle saves the life of a giant tortoise. When the man falls deathly ill, it is up to the tortoise to carry him on its shell to the city to find the medicine that will cure him.
The Flamingos’ Stockings: The snakes of the jungle throw a great ball and all the animals are invited. When the flamingos realize they have nothing to wear they are tricked into committing a grievous fashion faux pas.
The Bald Parrot: A domesticated parrot one day has a nasty run in with a wild jaguar. Upon losing all his feathers, he hatches a plan with his owner to seek revenge.
The Alligator War: When men come and scare all the fish from their swamp, the alligators joins forces with the other animals to protect their home.
The Blind Doe: A curious doe does not heed the words of her mother and is blinded in her attempt to seek forbidden honey. Her mother entreats the help of a friendly hunter to save her daughter’s sight.
The Story of Two Coati Cubs and Two Man Cubs: A small coati is captured by a family of humans living in the jungle. Drama ensues when the Coati’s family wants to take him back to the wild.
The Yabebiri Ford: A man saves a community of fresh-water stingrays from the destructive practice of dynamite fishing. The rays repay the man by defending him from a pride of bloodthirsty jaguars.
The Lazy Bee: A bee in a hard-working beehive refuses to contribute to the hive’s survival. After a night away from the community she learns a lesson in self-sacrifice.
And here an excerpt of one of our favorites, The Flamingos' Stockings:
One day the snakes held a grand ball. They invited the frogs and the toads, and the flamingos, and the alligators and the fish. The fish, because they can’t walk, couldn't dance; but since the ball was held on the riverbank, they would hop up onto the sand and clap along with their tails.
The alligators, in order to look their best, had put on banana necklaces and smoked their best Paraguayan cigars. The toads had glued fish scales all over their bodies and wiggled around on the dancefloor as if they were swimming. And each time that they would pass by, very serious, along the the riverbank, the fish would shout and make fun of them.
The frogs put on lots of cologne and walked on two feet. Also, each one carried a firefly that would swing like a little lantern.
But the most beautiful were the snakes. All of them, without exception, were dressed in ballerina outfits that matched their own color. The red snakes wore tutus of red tulle; the green snakes wore tutus of green tulle; the yellow snakes wore tutus of yellow tulle; and the yararás wore tutus of grey tulle painted with stripes of brick dust and ash because those are the colors of the yarará.
And the most magnificent of all the snakes were the coral snakes, which were dressed in great long strips of red, white, and black gossamer and danced like streamers in a breeze. When the snakes danced and twirled on the tips of the tails, everyone would applaud like crazy.
Only the flamingos, which at that time had legs that were all white and had, just as they have now, thick and twisted noses; only the flamingos were sad because they were not very smart and had not known how to dress. They were jealous of the outfits of all the guests and most of all those of the coral snakes. Each time one would pass by them flaunting and shaking their gossamer, the flamingos would just die of envy.
Salto, Uruguay 1878 - Buenos Aires, Argentina 1937
Journalist, teacher, builder of canoes, houses and violins, cotton farmer, justice of the peace, film critic and one of Latin America’s best short story writers... Quiroga is one of the most fascinating characters in Latin American literature.
After travels in Europe during his youth, Quiroga spent most of his life in Argentina. He was the official photographer on an expedition led by the famous Argentine poet Leopoldo Lugones to Misiones in northeast Argentina. Quiroga became enchanted by the wild region and he spent the larger part of his life in the remote jungle. Experiences from this period inspired many of his short stories about life in the wilderness.
Some of his most famous works include Cuentos de la selva (1918; Jungle Tales), Cuentos de amor, de locura y de muerte (1917; Stories of love madness and death) and Anaconda (1921).
He’s written over 200 pieces of fiction and has often been compared to Rudyard Kipling, Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe. Roberto Bolaño mentions Quiroga as one of the must-read authors in his famous “Consejos sobre el arte de escribir cuentos” (“Advice on the Art of Writing Short Stories”)
My name is Jeff Zorrilla. I am a filmmaker and English teacher. I moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina one year ago where I met the love of my life, Natalia Cortesi.
Natalia introduced me to the great Latin American writer Horacio Quiroga. We would read his stories to each other with immense pleasure before going to sleep. One day while she was reading me The Bald Parrot from his book Jungle Tales, with her affected voice imitating that of the antagonistic jaguar, I realized that these were a collection of stories that English speaking children deserve the pleasure of reading.
This is our first translation, but by working together - Natalia being a native Argentinian and me a certified English teacher- we have managed to create an engaging English translation that children can easily understand while at the same time maintains the original sentiment of the book.
We have decided to self-publish the book because, as a translation of a hundred year old children’s book, we feel that a major publishing house would not give it the faithful treatment that it deserves.
We hope that our edition will help expand the spectrum of literature for English speaking kids and teenagers and introduce them to new cultures and a different way of seeing the world.
And we want it PRINTED!
Remember the pleasure of having in your hands a new book, full of yet undiscovered adventures, with beautiful color illustrations that captured your imagination? Well, that’s exactly what we want to generate in our future readers.
Our dream is to create a book that is enchanting for both children and adults, with high-quality paper, an engaging design and most important of all, original full-color illustrations by artistic genius Bert Van Wijk, whose wonderful work you can see here.
After finishing high school Bert decided to study illustration at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam where he experimented with all kinds of different media. He says that he likes “to discover something new in everything I do which keeps my life and art young funky and fresh”.
The desire to discover new places, ways and views took him to Buenos Aires, Argentina, where a visit of a few months turned out into a few exciting years filled with art and creativity. There he (re-)discovered the mural-art and started focusing on illustration.
This is one of the amazing illustrations Bert has made for the book!
What are we going to do with the money?
Your contribution will help us to:
- Hire a professional proofreader to ensure the highest quality English translation
- Pay for book and cover design
- Print the first run of 1000 books
- Pay for the costs of the book launch and presentation
- Pay for shipping and distribution costs so you will have the book in your hands by the end of this year.
We know that with your help we can bring the joy of these stories into the homes of English speaking families were it belongs. Thank your for your interest and support!
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