The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends

Guardians of the Forest

Children - Picture Book
34 Pages
Reviewed on 03/21/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite

Folotjing is a magical creature that lives in the forest. He is a kind, caring creature, but not one to instantly become a hero. He cares for his environment, cleaning the waters around him of the refuse dumped by humans. He is the finest example of someone who knows how to recycle with a purpose: his recent find being a lonely shoe floating away, a shoe that he believes will make a fine boat for him. A good thing, too, because one night, hearing cries of fear and agony, he takes his shoe-turned-boat onto the water and rescues a frightened kitten trapped in a sealed box. Folotjing nurtures and cares for those around him, even the bear whose den floods in a horrendous storm and a frightened wolf with nowhere else to go. But that’s not all – this small creature, who cares for everything and everyone around him, so full of peace, battles the elements to save those less fortunate. Yes, Folotjing might be an unlikely hero, but he is a hero, nonetheless.

Rio N Cortez’s picture book story, The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends: Guardians of a Forest, is a heartwarming, tender story. Told in rhyming verse and with spectacular illustrations (I love the swirling, Gauguin-like skies), the plot follows Folotjing’s travels and adventures in the forest. The language is, for the most part, simple and lyrical which will appeal to young readers. There are some big words in this story, but young readers are always up to the challenge as they strengthen their reading skills. Having an adult read with them will assist in learning these big words. The message is subtle: take care of the world and other living creatures around you.

The story also confronts the difficult topic of loss, as Folotjing learns to part with his rescued kitten and mourns a friend that even Folotjing’s magic cannot save. He has another difficult lesson to learn. And, later, as he snuggles in for a good slumber amongst friends, the bear, the wolf, and the eaglet, he realizes that sorrow hurts, but “family is proof that love will give you what magic cannot.” Isn’t that the most important message: that love is stronger than any kind of magic, because love, in itself, is magic.

Pikasho Deka

The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends is a short picture book for kids written and illustrated by Rio N. Cortez. Folotjing, a free-spirited adventurous kid blessed with the gift of magic, spends his days in the forest dutifully fulfilling his responsibilities of cleaning the river of junk and trash. After rescuing a trembling kitten from the river one day, Folotjing finds himself having to help his forest friends once again when a devastating storm wreaks havoc on the entire forest, making life difficult for its inhabitants. To add to Folotjing's woes, his friend Re'nabon the eagle is grievously injured, and she asks for his help to protect her eaglet. Now, Folotjing must overcome his grief and try to protect his friends by providing them with sanctuary.

With beautiful illustrations, Rio N. Cortez tells an inspiring adventure tale that provides vital lessons for kids on how to navigate the loss of loved ones, an important aspect of life. The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends takes you on a magical journey through a vibrant forest filled with talking animals. Folotjing is a kind-hearted, unassuming hero who never shirks his responsibilities even in the face of overwhelming odds. He finds time to have fun with his friends, Bowzer the bear and Li'ya the wolf, but whenever there is an emergency, he is always ready to do his duty for the good of the forest creatures. I had an absolute blast reading the book. I think kids will find it fun as well as inspirational.

Vincent Dublado

The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends: Guardians of the Forest by Rio N. Cortez is an engrossing and thought-provoking storybook that will appeal to both children and adults. The tale focuses on Folotjing, a tiny Dwendi or dwarf who lives inside Sersha Terra, an enchanted tree that looks ordinary from the outside but is very much a cozy entry-level mansion from the inside. Folotjing is a child of Nature and part of his duties is to clean the river of junk and debris. This charming tale provides young readers with an intense conflict, as Folotjing deals with different situations: A box tossed into the river containing a helpless kitten, a Philippine eagle asking for his help to find her missing husband, a bear, and a wolf seeking shelter from the ravages of nature, and a toppled tree that causes a grave tragedy.

The writing and illustrations are excellent. The narrative has a flowing rhythm to it, although as Rio N. Cortez suggests, adults should assist their young ones with some words designed to introduce them to vocabulary building. The illustrations are top-notch, as they are a crisp and clear blending of color and sepia-style drawings. As with the animal characters, there is an element of anthropomorphism that will remind you of the works of Richard Adams and Robert C. O’Brien. It is easy to remember the whole plot and it will linger in your mind. There are some scary bits in this story that deal with loss, but such a theme is handled with great sensitivity for children to embrace the fact that bitter experiences can make them stronger. I strongly recommend The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends for its brilliant handle on themes such as friendship, compassion, and the environment as well as a golden lesson that there is no shame in admitting your fears.

Philip Van Heusen

Do you know what a duendi is? You probably don’t unless you are familiar with Filipino culture. Rio N. Cortez tells the most interesting story about a duendi in The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends: Guardians of the Forest. Duendi are little creatures, much like an elf, that can be mischievous or helpful. They grant people either bad or good luck. If you have happened upon this book, then you have been granted great luck. This book is a delight to read. The hero, Folotjing, is a duendi that goes about helping the inhabitants in the forest around his house. He encounters several adventures but the most exciting one is during a bad storm. Folotjing learns how to deal with loss and death.

Who has not tasted the grief of death? If we have lived long, we all have. Too often children have to deal with death’s grief and they have not been taught how. This excellent little book is wonderful for parents to read to or with their children to help them learn how to deal with loss, fear, ridicule, acceptance, and death. In The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends: Guardians of the Forest, Rio N. Cortez follows the journey of the duendi Folotjing as he navigates some joys and also some negative circumstances. One of the lessons Folotjing learns is that grief is easier to bear when experienced in the company of friends. A parent can use this book to begin many different conversations with their child about issues that concern them. I highly recommend this book to all parents.