Foreword Review — May / June 2003
“He flies with the magic inside his cap, and brings back dreams come true. One night, after going to bed, Ruben fell into a jungle.” This introduction led Ruben into a dream where he encountered different jungle animals and kept them as playmates. Eventually Ruben put his cap back on and “POOF! He flew back to his bed just as the sun was rising.” As he woke up and took off his cap, the jungle and all the friends he had made “flew out of his cap and spilled into his room” in the form of stuffed animals.
Ruben’s Jungle just may be a synonym for “imagination.” People of all ages can recall the comfort of stuffed animals at night, as well as the child’s never-ending desire to play. Imagination is lurking in everyone, and this book stimulates it with a monkey’s tail and the trunk of an elephant.
Born in Panama, the author grew up in Miami. He has shared a Pulitzer Prize, worked as a reporter at several television stations, and eventually was a national correspondent for the Fox News Channel. Later, he became the Deputy Managing Editor for People en EspaÃ±ol. Raising his sons in a bilingual environment might have motivated his interest in writing children’s books.
With a B.A. in fine arts, the illustrator uses vivid colors to depict the magic in Ruben’s cap. A bright yellow lion communicates with Ruben, who is wearing vibrant orange pajamas, while a brown-gray monkey swings in the background. On the next page a radiant sunrise jumps out and shades the water a beautiful hue of blue-green.
This book follows Ruben’s Rainbow, a previous collaboration of Harrison and Paz. Ruben’s Jungle also comes with an accompanying Compact Disc. The CD has a follow-along option in English, Spanish, or both. Children who listen to and read this book will take pleasure in the authentic native voices. Adults will enjoy reading this story to children ages three to eight. The lively colors of the illustrations will keep children interested, and the simple, fun text—in both English and Spanish—is easy for the beginning reader to follow.