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Zonia’s Rain Forest, written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

We all must answer.

Zonia lives with her loved ones in her home in the Amazon rain forest. Each day the rain forest calls for her to explore, and she does. She greets the many animals of the forest, the Blue morpho butterfly, the Hoffman’s two-toed sloth, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, the Amazon river dolphin, and her most playful friend, the South American coati.

On her way home, Zonia sees something different, something that frightens her. She runs home to her mother, pleading, “The forest needs help!”

With encouragement, Zonia answers the call of the rain forest, as she always does.

Martinez-Neal tells a joyful, yet urgent story while her illustrations bring the beauty and lushness of the Amazon rain forest to life. Back matter is extensive and fascinating and includes information on the Asháninka People, facts and threats to the Amazon, and the fascinating animals that Zonia encounters in her day.

When sharing this book with my third-grade students, we first jotted notes on what we knew and wanted to know about rain forests. After a full reading and sharing of the back matter, the students were filled with questions and eager to learn more, particularly about the unique animals that dwell in the rain forest. Then, I read the book a second time, focusing on the author’s meaning in her final line of text, We all must answer.

“We must help by fighting for the forest or replanting it.”

“We must stop cutting down trees.”

“We need to save the animals.”

“We must protect the water, the animals, and the trees.”

“We must stop pollution.”

“Everybody has to help, or the forest will be destroyed.”

Be ready for rich discussions in your classroom after sharing this book. Consider it as a lead into units on animals, their habitats, ecosystems, and environmental advocacy.

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