Jungle Tales by Horacio Quiroga: Uruguayan Children’s book now in English
Article by Sharon Salt.
Children’s book ‘Jungle Tales’, was originally published in 1918, as Cuentos de la Selva by Uruguayan author, Horacio Quiroga. This collection of eight short, fantastical stories take place in a world where interspecies friendships abound, where snakes throw the best parties and a wild doe has fireside chats with a hunter. It remains a beloved children’s book in most of Latin America, and many schools still require their students to read it as a part of the curriculum.
So when Jeff Zorrilla, a New York native, first moved to Buenos Aires and wanted to practice his Spanish, his girlfriend Natalia Cortesi introduced him to the book. Night after night, she’d read part of the book aloud to him, and he enjoyed it so much that he decided to learn more by trying his hand at translation. It wasn’t until he searched for a version of Cuentos de la Selva to check against his own that he realized it had never been translated into English.
He decided to translate the book in full but had a hard time finding a publisher. Thankfully, Jeff and Natalia didn’t let that deter them. They set up a Kickstarter account, and within a month, they had raised just over the $7,000 they needed to self-publish. From there, it was a matter of deciding on the paper quality, printing method, and book design.
The illustrations were done by Bert van Wijk from the Netherlands, but interestingly enough, Jeff and Bert have never met. When deciding what to do about the illustrations, Jeff image-searched for Cuentos de la Selva on Google and found one of Bert’s pieces. It was from the first story. At that time Bert had only made the one image on a whim, as a kind of homage to the book, which he had read years before. Jeff asked if he’d like to participate in the project, and out of his love for the stories, Bert gladly accepted.
Jungle Tales is beautifully made and well worth the purchase. The images jump off the page, and the stories themselves are absolutely delightful. Thanks to this translation, now more people – children and adults alike – will have the opportunity to read them!