Tuki and Moka: A Tale of Two Tamarinsby Jim Madsen (Illustrator), Judy Young
Eduardo and his family live in a small town in Ecuador, not far from the Amazon rainforest. The rainforest is an important part of their lives. Each month Eduardo and his father travel by river from their town to the rainforest. There, using just a basket and a machete, they gather Brazil nuts. They are castañeros and this is how they earn their living. But the rainforest is not only important to the castañeros; it is home to many exotic species of plants, birds, and mammals, including two playful tamarins that Eduardo has named Tuki and Moka. So although it is difficult work being a castañero, Eduardo looks forward to his visits to the rainforest so he can play with his two friends. But one night, the peace of the forest is threatened by poachers, animal traffickers who illegally capture and then try to sell some of the birds and animals. Can Eduardo save his friends?
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Eduardo smiled as he glanced back at Tuki and Moka who sat on his shoulders. The tamarins were his friends, friends who kept him company in the “Amazon rainforest of Ecuador” as he gathered Brazil nuts with his father. Papá and Eduardo kept close watch for snakes below and falling pods as they crashed from the trees. “Being a castañro is a dangerous job!” declared his Papá, but only after they averted disaster. Their family had collected Brazil nuts for generations and ten-year-old Eduardo was the youngest. Tiki, who was a “lazy little thief,” held out his paw as he waited for Eduardo to crack open a nut for him. The rainforest was alive with life and activity. The tamarins were chattering, “the birds chirping and calling, and his father steadily chopping.” Tiki was lazy, but there was an agouti who could open the nuts by himself. Eduardo didn’t mind because, as he told the agouti, “You’ll forget where you bury some of those nuts and then more trees will grow.” Eduardo and Papá had to keep watch for the jaguars, but there was something else in the rainforest that was even more dangerous. Eduardo later heard a “thunderous crash” during the night. The animal traffickers had arrived to steal the macaws and their babies, but as a bonus they took Tuki and Moka. Would Eduardo be able to save them or would his friends be lost forever? This is the tale of Tuki and Moka, two tamarins who were taken by animal traffickers. Eduardo and the tamarins were fast friends, but they weren’t his pets. The dramatic tale of their capture by traffickers, who stole them to sell on the black market, will captivate young readers. The tale is enhanced by gorgeous, expressive artwork that is quite appealing. The picture book format draws in even the most reluctant reader, who will learn a bit about the history of Ecuador, its rainforest, wildlife, and the illegal animal trafficking trade. In the back of the book is an author’s note that gives additional information that can easily be used as a stepping stone for further research for a school report. Quill says: This is a captivating tale of Eduardo and his friends, Tuki and Moka, from the Tales of the World series that young readers will love!