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Review 5.18: Where is Ucipuci, the lost Latvian Owl? Author: Zane Zusta

Held at the Critic Bookshop, Viva Mall – Shuangjing.
Author: Zane Zusta
Book: Where is Ucipuci, the lost Latvian Owl?
Time: 13:00 – 14:00pm
Date: 18-05-2019

Beating the slightly gloomy weather of Beijing on early Saturday afternoon, the event started at about 13:07 with attendants seated and ready to listen to the author’s delivery. The room was spectacularly decorated with a welcoming ambience for children and parents alike who were seated, ready for the commencement of the reading of the book and interaction with the author. The day was to be fun packed with educative, entertaining and creative activities that would intrigue the attendees who participated in the book reading.
The event commenced with an introduction of the author’s country of origin, Latvia. With a population of about two million, the country has been said to be the second greenest country in the world. What seemed to stun the attendants of the event was when the translator mentioned that the country could be credited for the creation of ‘Jeans’ in the world. She also stated that the people from Latvia were very creative people.
The author by way of introduction mentioned that she was a writer and journalist from Latvia, married with two children. With two books published to her credit and one yet to be released by the of 2019, her second book, Ucipici thinks outside the box was nominated for the International Janis Baltvilks Prize in Children’s Literature and Book Art 2018 and for the Annual Prize for Literature 2018. Her first print made record sales in a month after it was released and sold out completely. The book was re-released.
Preceding the reading of the book, the author shared her inspiration behind the writing of this very insightful and beautiful children’s story. She mentioned that the story was birthed form an experience with her son after a trip to Italy. She stated that upon arrival from a trip to Italy some seven years ago, her son had forgotten his sleeping toy and left it behind. Her son cried continuously and requested that the toy be brought back to Italy because he really liked the toy. However, after several attempts, the toy was not returned, and this was how the book came about.
The story Where is Ucipuci, the lost Latvian Owl, details the journey of two friends who begin an expedition to find a lost toy. The story from the beginning to the end crisply narrates the journey of these two friends who overcome obstacles such as a closed door, a black hole and a terrifying green cricket who finally proves to be of immense help to the friends’ journey.
The story blends suspense with values of overcoming fears and obstacles, building new friendships and perseverance as the characters in this children’s book must engage their bravery to attain their final goal which is finding the lost toy. The children were absolutely blown away by the magical narration of the story and the final achievement of the characters. The parents and children alike applauded to the final words after the book was read by the author.
The book Where is Ucipuci, the lost Latvian Owl, also features a section where children are informed and educated on what to do when they get lost and the author carefully mentions three steps children could take to find their way or help rescuers assisting them to find their way.
The children participated in a painting task which depicted their creative skills. The author engaged with the children as thy selected their own colors to give life to a colorless cut-out cardboard of one of the favorite characters from the story. They were also asked to fix a part of the cut-out cardboard a piece of light wood which could be raised to give more aesthetic value to their painting.
The event ended with a photo-taking session with the author and the organizers of the program. The children raised their Latvia flags and their paintings as they joined their parents, the author, the translator and facilitators to take pictures. The children were delighted about the experience. Beyond hearing a very intriguing story, they were also able to engage their creative juices and create a colorful portrait in the end.
Parents who attended the program were delighted with the experience and shared their thoughts with the author. The author also expressed her deep appreciation for the attendance and was happy the audience had been very engaging and fun. The parents interacted with each other as they expressed their joy at the success of the event and the level of professionalism displayed by the organizers of the event.
A live stream link was also provided for people who could not make it to the venue to also benefit from the event by interacting and sharing their comments while connecting with their favorite authors.
The event ended at 13:50pm.
Report by:
Robert Chireboah-Ansah