7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #751: Featuring Ramón París

h1 July 11th, 2021 by jules

“Faoro made the wedding rings and a small surprise for Night: gold settings for her fangs. The alligator showed them off to the delight of the all the guests.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


Today’s featured picture book is a Venezuelan import. The Caiman (Amazon Crossing Kids, July 2021) — written by María Eugenia Manrique, illustrated by Ramón París, and translated by Amy Brill — was originally published in 2019 but has arrived on American shelves this month.

The author (also an artist) is one of the children portrayed in the book (as a child, her bio says, she rode the caiman), which tells the real-life story of José Faoro. A girl discovers a baby alligator, “a river caiman,” and the town jeweler and watchmaker, Faoro himself, decides to take the creature to his home in San Fernando de Apure. Naming the caiman “Night,” he tends to and essentially domesticates her, building a freshwater pond in his backyard for the creature. People from all over town come to see the pet caiman. Night is devoted to Faoro: “Each morning, Night climbed into Faoro’s bed to wake him up by resting her head on his lap.” The children in town are fascinated and come to visit Night often.

When Faoro falls in love with a woman named Angela, she and Night meet. (“At their first meeting, Night wrapped herself around Faoro’s legs and stared at Angela. Angela was terrified. But Faoro took her hands between his own, and together they strokoed the alligator’s head.”) At the wedding, Faoro creates gold settings for Night’s fangs, who is a part of the ceremony (as pictured above). The book closes with, years later, Faoro’s death and Night’s subsequent grief. Backmatter includes a note about Faoro with a bit more information about him and the caiman he came to love.

París, born in Venezuela and currently living in Barcelona, rendered these intricate, textured illustrations via markers, Chienese ink-brush, and digital media. His spreads are detailed and busy, but never too busy — he knows just where to draw readers’ eyes. Manrique writes with a reverent tenderness of the special bond between Faoro and the caiman (as well as, later, Angela). Here are some spreads from the book so that you can see for yourself. …


“Faoro took Night to his workshop with him each day. …”
(Click spread to enlarge and read text in its entirety)


“Years passed. Night grew until she was ten feet long.
Ten feet of a quiet and happy life.”

(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


THE CAIMAN. Text copyright © 2019 by María Eugenia Manrique. Illustrations copyright © 2019 by Ramón París. Translation copyright © 2021 by Amy Brill. Originally published as La caimana by Ediciones Ekaré in Venezuala in 2019. First published in English by Amazon Crossing Kids in collaboration with Amazon Crossing in 2021. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher.

* * * Jules’s Kicks * * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

1) The robin’s nest on our front porch …

2) … which is Kitty TV for our cat (who isn’t allowed to go outside and nab it).

3) New music coming from Courtney Barnett.

4) Angel Olsen singing ’80s covers. I’m in.

5) Visits with friends, both in-person and virtual.

6) A blog reader sharing this good piece.

7) Catherine Murdock’s Da Vinci’s Cat (illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky) has been a fun read-aloud with my daughters:

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #751: Featuring Ramón París”

  1. I love stories such as this. A truth seed that has blossomed into a story. And such a friendship.
    Jules, I love that you have this tradition of reading to your girls. Plus baby robins!
    My kicks:
    1. Last weekend we travelled to Idaho to be with friends on the 4th.
    2. Sunsets.
    3. My juncos and their nest made it through the unbearable heat (the nest was in my fuchsia and it died) But the family has babies and I am so happy.
    4. Finished V.E. Scwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue.
    5. Also finished Stephen King’s Later which was a good horror/crime/ghost romp.
    6. Lunch with friends.
    7. Marion berries!
    Have a great week.

  2. This story is so lovely. Even though we have laws that do not allow for ownership of exotic pets (and that’s generally a good thing!) I adore stories of deep connection and bonds between more unusual animals and people. Brings back fun memories of my dad telling us about his pet alligator and spider monkey.

    Jules – that NPR story is wonderful and clearly you are ahead of the curve in terms of Sunday’s Kicks being a great place to cultivate gratitude. Yay for kitty tv and visits with friends. I’ll check out all the other links later – love having that to look forward to.

    Jone – hooray for holidays and lunches with friends! So glad the juncos survived the heat. Marion berries, yum!

    My kicks this week:
    1) Loki!!
    2) Evening tennis. Still playing badly, but a little less so.
    3) Bike rides through the neighborhood on summer evenings.
    4) Being reminded via Twitter of what a great movie Baz Luhrman’s Romeo+Juliet is, and that soundtrack still slaps. Been listening to it all weekend.
    5) The actor playing Mercutio was on fire and stole every scene, but it didn’t click til yesterday that it was Harold Perrineau, who is simply genius in everything he does. Since finding out he was in Lost, I’m considering making that my next old series to watch.
    6) Friday was a very long day workwise, so I rewarded myself yesterday with a few bites of Une Fantome, un Coteau, Une Nuit (A ghost, with a knife, in the night) from Pix Patisserie’s Pix-O-Matic. Too rich for more than a couple of bites and goes great with morning coffee. http://www.pixpatisserie.com/desserts
    7) Making it through a busy week to today and hanging out with Daisy in the yard with good coffee, sunshine, and a nice breeze.
    7.5) Daisy had swimming yesterday after a couple weeks away and she was so happy to see her friends. I love that its good for her AND she really loves it.

    BONUS – Netflix Dogs season 2 and Cats season 1 started! Portland’s own Moshow the Cat Rapper is in Cats episode 1.

    Have a great week Imps!

  3. Hi Imps! Hello to Ramón París and Night! I love Night’s expression on the cover. So content.

    Jules: Hi kitties and hi birds!

    Hi Jone: Hi birds and berries!

    Hi Rachel: Hi Daisy and the breeze! (Which sounds like a crime procedural featuring a sarcastic P.I. and their fun-loving sidekick!)

    My kicks from the past week:
    1) Water
    2) Music
    3) Space
    4) Sight
    5) Seen
    6) Simple
    7) Sound

  4. One last SUPER BONUS kick:
    Zaila Avate-garde winning the spelling bee! Her joy was so infectious and her talent in so many areas is almost unreal. That girl is unstoppable. Cannot wait to see what she does next.

  5. Jone, so glad you had a good trip and that the birds survived the awful heat.

    Rachel, that last Loki episode was soo good, and I’m so happy you mentioned Zaila, which I had totally intended to do — but it slipped my mind. Those dessserts look amazing. And I wasn’t aware of this Cat People show. Must find!

    Have a good week, you all!

  6. Little Willow, we passed in cyberspace. As always, I appreicate your evocative one-word kicks. Maybe you can write Daisy and the Breeze, the crime procedural, one day!

  7. I love that kicks still exist, and some of the original kickers too!Also, I miss picture books, and this looks super cool. Darn kids grew up!

    My kicks:
    25 years of marriage
    A middle child graduated from high school
    A youngest child heading off to high school
    An oldest child turning 20 (!)
    Steady work through a pandemic


    Oh my gosh, your grown children! I hear you: My oldest is a rising senior in high school.

    So happy to hear all is well with you and your family!

  9. Oh my gosh – CONGRATS on 25 years of marriage Jeremy! How can it be your youngest is already in high school? Wow.

    Little Willow – please write Daisy and The Breeze as a crime procedural! It would be awesome if it were an animated show, like City of Ghosts.
    Also, yay for water, music and simple!

  10. Hello! I should have said that too. It was comforting and cathartic to read these kicks. Hope you’re well! As if you have a high school senior…

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