Ursuline Academy students wrapped in red sweaters were transported Wednesday to a tropical rainforest with colorful flowers and animated wildlife in Peru, thanks to twin sisters Ava and Bella Lindia.
The sisters took the kindergarten to fifth graders on the voyage by reading their newly published bilingual children’s book, “El Amigo Eterno.”
The Ursuline seniors wrote and illustrated the book partly to honor their elementary school art teacher, Bernadette DeLong, who died in 2020.
The book’s main character, a bright green Lorito Verde, common to the Southern Amazon, shares the name of their art teacher, Bernadette, who once taught in Peru.
The book was published in January by Creo En Ti Media after the sisters won a national contest to which students submitted bilingual books. It sells on Amazon for $10.
Ava illustrated the book while her sister Bella authored.
“Our inspiration for the book came from a story that our art teacher used to share,” Bella told the dozens of children in the audience at Ursuline. “She used to always tell us that she once rescued an injured bird and healed it … in the comfort of a sock.”
DeLong used to share a slew of stories that taught her classes about art and life, Ava said.
While the book only took a few months to create, the publishing process took about a year.
The twins aren’t from a Hispanic background and don’t speak Spanish fluently, but they have taken Spanish and World Language during their time at Ursuline.
With the help of Ursuline’s Spanish Teacher, Erin Prada, the girls were able to depict the Peruvian Amazon, the setting of the book, in an accurate and comprehensive way for children to enjoy and understand.
Peru was chosen as the setting largely because of DeLong’s experience teaching there and the many stories that she shared with her students.
Ava used water colors for her illustrations to highlight the vibrance and liveliness of Peru.
She started with tiny sketches on comic book paper and then sketched larger versions of the images she liked best, experimenting with different color palettes to achieve the bright and spirited look she wanted.
It was important to Ava and Bella to portray Peru with imagery that is accurate to the local lifestyle and environment, they said.
The girls’ favorite part of creating the book was going through designs and translating the text to make it a complete polished copy that speakers of Spanish and English can both appreciate.
The sisters are already working on another bilingual children’s book, they said. It is not titled yet, but it will have themes similar to “El Amigo Eterno” and will take place in a Hispanic country, the two said.
They hope that their work will help children develop a caring and loving relationship with nature and the world around them at a young age.
If their audiences Wednesday morning were any sign, children will be clamoring to get their hands on it.
As the sisters passed around copies of their book, the kids jockeyed to get a copy and take a closer look at the book and its illustrations.
Raised in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, Jarek earned a B.A. in journalism and a B.A. in political science from Temple University in 2021. After running CNN’s Michael Smerconish’s YouTube channel, Jarek became a reporter for the Bucks County Herald before joining Delaware LIVE News.
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