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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Maria Eugenia Manrique
Age Range: 6-8
When Faoro the clockmaker comes across a group of children who have found an orphaned baby alligator – a river caiman, he decides to adopt it and take it home. Faoro names the caiman Night and takes her to his workshop each day. News travels fast and Night becomes a star attraction in the small town of San Fernando de Apure in Venezuela. Visitors arrive from the nearby villages and towns to see Night and the neighbourhood children regularly play with her.
As Night grew into a full-sized Allegator Faoro built her a freshwater pool. Night followed Faoro everywhere even taking part in his wedding to his neighbour Angela and is desolate when Faoro is taken ill and dies. The story became legendary as no one forgot the kind young man and his adoring alligator.
The Caiman is based on a true story by Venezuelan author María Eugenia Manrique, translated by Amy Brill. Manrique recalls nostalgic memories of her childhood growing up in San Fernando de Apure as one of the children who used to visit the famous caiman.
The visual narrative with its colourful palette, provided in mixed media artwork of pen and ink drawings and watercolour washes, by Venezuelan artist Ramón París, is evocative and brings to life this unusual tale.