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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - MCBD 2021 Review of Mystery of the Troubled Toucan #ReadYourWorld

Multicultural Children’s Book Day 2022 (1/28/22) is in its 9th year! This non-profit children’s literacy initiative was founded by Valarie Budayr and Mia Wenjen; two diverse book-loving moms who saw a need to shine the spotlight on all of the multicultural books and authors on the market while also working to get those book into the hands of young readers and educators.

MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. I've participated for the past five years and have had the privilege to read: Lump Lump and the Blanket of Dreams; Sophie Washington: Mismatch; Nadia Knox and the Eye of Zinnia; Sister Girl and the Training Wheels; Katie Woo, We Love You! ; and I Am Not A Number.

This year, I am reviewing an early chapter book that is the part of the Pack-n-Go Girls Adventure series of books "designed by girls for girls...[which] engages the imagination of children ages 6-9 by introducing them to different countries around the world.... [the] adventures are packed with spooky mysteries, international friendships, and lots of fun and easy multicultural learning."

Mystery of the Troubled Toucan

Author: Lisa Travis

Illustrator: Adam Turner

Publisher: Pack-n-Go Girls Inc (2015)

Ages: 6-9

Informational Fiction


Mystery, Amazon river, Brazil, friendship, and family relationships.


Welcome to Brazil!

Nine-year-old Sofia Diaz’s world is coming apart. So is the rickety old boat that carries her far up the Rio Negro river in Brazil. Crocodiles swim in the dark waters. Spiders scurry up the twisted tree trunks. And a crazy toucan screeches a warning. It chases Sofia and Júlia, her new friend, deep into the steamy rainforest. There they stumble upon a shocking discovery.

Opening Lines:

Putt. Putt. Putt. Sputter. Putt. Putt. Sputter. Putt. Sputter. Sputter. Sput—

Sofia Diaz whirled around and peered over the side of the sputtering boat. The dark waters of the Rio Negro slowed down as they flowed past. Her dad had told her that the Rio Negro flowed together with the Rio Solimões to create the Amazon River in Manaus. Up river, where they were, she could really see why the Rio Negro was named after the color of the water. It meant “black river.” The waters looked blacker now, even threatening, as the boat sputtered and slowed to a stop.

“Um, Dad, did the boat just die?” She wouldn’t be surprised. The run-down wooden boat had blue paint peeling off the sides and a makeshift tarp duct-taped to the top for shade

What I LIKED about this book:

Immediately starting with Sofia and her dad facing the possibility of their boat breaking down, as it was taking them up the Rio Negro river in Brazil for her father's business. Leaving them stranded, to be surrounded by caiman, piranhas, and/or anaconda, and at the mercy of a creepy captain. Until Sofia takes charge and helps figure out how to get the boat moving again.

Image © Adam Turner, 2022.

Wrapped throughout this mystery is the undercurrent that Sophia's mom and dad announced they were separating, just before she and her dad headed off for this trip, and its effect on her and her reactions to events and people in Brazil.

Upon arrival at the lodge, Sofia meets Júlia Santos, a girl her age who's passionate about the rainforest and growing up to be an Amazon ranger. And a rather vocal Toucan who insists on hounding the girls, continuously calling, "Squawk! Yelp! Yelp! Yelp! SQUAWWWK!" When they eventually discover what the Toucan wants, help freeing some trapped botos, pink dolphins, it's up to them to foil the plans of poachers and try to find a way to catch them.

This is a fun chapter book mystery, full of information about the Amazon, Brazil, the animals of the rainforest, and friendship. As well as a wonderful integrated and natural weaving of Portuguese throughout the text. A delightful book about two strong, brave girls determined to make a compassionate difference.

Image © Adam Turner, 2022.

The accompanying black and white illustrations enticingly capture the suspense and the plants and animals of the Amazon rainforest. A helpful glossary, with pronunciation, and a "What to Know Before Go" section on Brazil enhance the informational fiction element of this book.

There's even a sneak peek at their next adventure when Júlia and Sophia team up in Miami for another mystery - Mystery of the Lazy Loggerhead.


- explore images and information about Brazil on the Pack-n-Go Girls site (

- check out these activities & crafts about the Amazon (

- read more about the Amazon and Rainforests in - Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree by Kate Messner, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani;

All the Way Down: Amazon Rainforest by Alex Woolf, illustrated by Isobel Lundie;

21 Strange Animals That Live In The Rainforest: Extraordinary Animal Photos & Facinating Fun Facts For Kids by Selena Dale; and

The Amazon: Step into the World's Largest Rainforest and Learn All There is to Know About the Mighty Amazon River by DK Eyewitness Books.

[Note: I received a digital copy of this book to review for the event.]

MCBD’s mission is to raise awareness of the ongoing need to include kids’ books that celebrate diversity in homes and school bookshelves. Read about our Mission & History HERE.

MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Medallion Sponsors!


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MCBD 2022 is honored to be Supported by these Author Sponsors!

Charlene Mosley (official MCBD2022 Poster Creator) Illustrator Isabelle Roxas (Class Kit Poster Creator)

Alva Sachs, Brianna Carter, Ebony Zay Zay, Rita Bhandari, Gwen Jackson, Lois Petren/The 5 Enchanted Mermaids, Valerie Williams-Sanchez and Valorena Publishing, Josh Funk, Afsaneh Moradian, Eugenia Chu, Maritza Martínez Mejía, Diana Huang, Kathleen Burkinshaw, CultureGroove, Sandra Elaine Scott, Dorena Williamson, Veronica Appleton, Alejandra Domenzain, Lauren Muskovitz and Sandfish Publishing, Tonya Duncan Ellis, Kimberly Lee, Susan Schaefer Bernardo & Illustrator Courtenay Fletcher, Nancy Tupper Ling, Winsome Hudson-Bingham, Amanda Hsiung-Blodgett, Sivan Hong, Michael Genhart, Debbie Dadey, Elizabeth Cureton, Stephanie Wildman, Maryann Jacob, Sherri Maret, Rochelle Melander, Dia Mixon, Kiyanda and Benjamin Young, Shereen Rahming, Linda Thornburg and Katherine Archer, Rebecca Flansburg and BA Norrgard , Maxine Schur Natalie McDonald-Perkins

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Check out MCBD's Multicultural Books for Kids Pinterest Board

FREE RESOURCES from Multicultural Children’s Book Day

Join us on Friday, Jan 29, 2021, at 9 pm EST for the 8th annual Multicultural Children's Book Day Twitter Party! Be sure and follow MCBD and Make A Way Media on Twitter!

This fun and fast-paced hour includes multicultural book discussions, addressing timely issues, diverse book recommendations, & reading ideas.

We will be giving away an 8-Book Bundle every 5 minutes plus Bonus Prizes as well! *** US and Global participants welcome. ***

Follow the hashtag #ReadYourWorld to join the conversation, connect with like-minded parts, authors, publishers, educators, organizations, and librarians. See you all very soon on Twitter!

Hashtag: Don’t forget to connect with us on social media and be sure and look for/use our official hashtag #ReadYourWorld.


Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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