This book was inspired by the childhood of Valentina Cruz, whose family were some of the first permanent inhabitants of the Galápagos Islands.
In 2007, I had an adventure of a lifetime. My friend and long-time traveling buddy, Jean Gallagher, invited me to go to the Galápagos Islands with her. To visit the Galápagos had always been a dream of mine; I couldn’t say no. We sailed for two weeks on a beautiful boat with six other adventurers and our guides. One of our naturalist guides was Valentina Cruz Bedon. She shared with us the home on Floreana Island where she grew up with her parents and 11 brothers and sisters. They were poor, but very happy. They felt like they lived in paradise.
When I returned home, the animals, plants, and people of the Galápagos stayed with me. In 2009 I wrote Valentina telling her I wanted to write a picture book about her, weaving in information about the animals of the Galápagos. Thankfully, she was willing to share her story with me over many emails and a few video chats. We are so glad to see our book birthed into the world. We hope all who read it will want to keep the animals and environment of the Galápagos safe.
- Green Prize for Sustainable Literature 2019
- Campoy-Ada Spanish Language Award
- Bank Street Best Books of the Year 2019
- Junior Library Guild Selection
Arnold has penned a poetic love letter to the spectacular wildlife of the Galápagos, inspired by Valentina Cruz, a biologist and conservationist. From blue-footed boobies to tortoises and even penguins, the islands seem to have it all. Readers will enjoy this quiet story of a young girl who finds not only a love of nature, but a way to come home to it again after study overseas, to protect it, and to share it with the world…the book will fascinate readers with Valentina’s magical island life, and readers will wish for nothing more than to swim with manta rays themselves.
A timely lesson of conservation that will get kids looking at the wildlife around them and saying, “We will not forget you. And we will keep you safe.”
School Library Journal