Jupu the Puffin: A Usonian Story, by Miguel Torres-Castro, $11.69 (Jupu Press)
For Jupu the Puffin, the world is his playground. After deciding one day—while chowing down on a codfish—to leave his home in Maine, Jupu propels himself on an epic journey that spans all the way to the tip of South America. The friends and experiences he has along the way are inspirational and educational.
During his journey, swooping over the eastern seaboard of the United States, Jupu stops to eat peaches in Georgia, oranges in Florida and begins to explore islands that one can only find on a detailed map.
The islands—which Jupu sees dotting the land below as he flies high—include Haiti and the Caribbean as well as smaller island chains around South America. During his flight he stops to meet native birds, samples delicious indigenous foods and experiences the cultures of the communities he stops in. Jupu is far from home but learning an immense amount about what the world has to offer.
Jupu’s journey is one of education, adventure and fun. This means embracing everything that these stops along the way have to offer. Miguel Torres-Castro’s Jupu the Puffin will expand the minds of children and adults.
Jupu notes smaller islands that are often overlooked and it is clear the author tried his best to include all cultures and lands among the puffin’s journey. It is an extremely educational tool for those interested in the geography of the western territory and the “Usonian” identity. Usonian is a term for all people living in the Western Hemisphere, and one that is revisited within the book.
Though Jupu becomes discouraged and wary in the middle of his laborious journey, the beauty of the places and people he encounters along the way is what propels him forward. Ultimately—armed with the knowledge of his travel—Jupu returns home to Maine, because that is where his heart will always be.
The intricate details on specific fruits the Jupu eats and the history of the places he visits makes this a great read for children who hope to explore the world one day. For those who aren’t ambitious to do so, Jupu’s journey serves as an inspiration and open door to the cultures that exist outside of their hometowns.