The Girl and the Jaguar

Alexandra and Judit Fortelny

Alexandra Magalhaes Zeiner is back to share with us her newest creation, The Girl and the Jaguar.  Alexandra has done more work involving the Amazon and spreading the word about our Mother Earth through art and text. Between being an author, doing projects for the environment, and being a mother she is truly an inspiration to all.

Interview by Lindsay Vlassos

Welcome back to OpenBeast Alexandra! Since your last interview with us, you have come out with a second book “The Girl and the Jaguar”. Please tell us about it.

Thanks again for the opportunity to share with your readers a bit of my work! The Girl and the Jaguar is a magical tale, beautifully illustrated by Judit Fortelny. After all positive feedback about our first book, The Pink Dolphin’s Son, Judit and I were invited to publish our second one. We’re very thankful to our Austrian sponsor and to our American publisher, people who believe in the important messages our books bring to readers of all ages. The Girl and the Jaguar, my second bilingual book tells the story of a little native girl who is able to talk to all forest animals. In order to save her brother, the little girl must talk to the jaguar, the “Queen of the Forest”. However, the jaguar is considered very dangerous, and the girl must trust herself to find the jaguar before it finds her brother.

What gave you the idea for this book?

I’m very passionate about the Amazon Forest, its animals and all native tales about their connection. For centuries native people have been living in close communion with nature, until “the explorers” of the “new world” arrived. WaldeMar de Andrade e Silva is a Brazilian artist and writer, who has been painting for many years scenes from the life of the Indians of Xingú, a place where he has lived and shared with its inhabitants his love for our forests and woods. When I first saw WaldeMar’s paintings I was fascinated. He’s a wonderful story teller and people of all ages are enchanted by his charisma. WaldeMar has also inspired me with his art and stories about Xingú people.  Brazilian indigenous people consider Xingú a sanctuary. Right now this special place is in great danger, and the world must know about it. Native people respect and believe that children are the future. Judit and I agree with them. In a time of great challenges for the Amazon and its peoples, we want to share the message that we are all connected while living on Mother Earth.

Does your son try to help you with the story-line of your books?

He really inspires me! Right now he’s “working” as an illustrator! It’s beautiful to watch him playing with colors and telling his own version of my stories. What most impresses me is to listen to his stories in different languages, because he must share with dad his German version! It’s amazing how easy bilingual children take the best of this dynamic process of speaking two or more languages. I’m very thankful to watch my little one growing up with three languages and wanting to learn more!

Last time you talked with us you were doing work for the Amazon. Can you give us a status update about that?

Like I mentioned before, I work with Walde Mar de Andrade e Silva, promoting his work and his museum, MUSEU DO ÍNDIO, in Europe. Since 2012 I have also been working with an Austrian artist, EICHMONDWALD, who has dedicated his work to the forests of his country and to the Amazon forest. Together we created a special card combining his art and my text: Pray to the Mother of the Forests. We sell the card to send the money to INSTITUTO CARACOL, which supports causes of native people in Mato Grosso, Brazil.

Are you in the midst of any new projects?

Yes, a new idea called “Adopt an Author Project”. The project was presented during the FIRST MEETING OF BRAZILIAN WRITERS IN BAVARIA, Munich, on the 3rd and 4th of May 2013, by the German Brazilian Cultural Association (DBKV e.V.), with the support of Esperanto Klub Munich. This is a project which has solidarity and creativity as a basis for promoting Brazilian culture abroad.

For this special event the DBKV and Esperanto have agreed with the idea of an ​​”adoption” of Brazilians authors living in different regions of Germany and other countries. The DBKV, working in partnership with the Adopt an Author Project invited the Brazilian community from the South of Germany to actively participate in the project, resulting in the hosting of all authors participating at the meeting in Munich.

This was a unique experience for the authors who participated on this multicultural exchange. Both authors and families were delighted with the experience. If you want to know more about it, please have a look at the blog of our website:

What helped give you the idea to do this project?

The experience I gained while promoting my books in Europe. Besides that, in September 2012, during a Brazilian author’s meeting in London I met other Brazilian authors living all over the world. As we shared our experience with each other, I also recognized the necessity of sharing that with the community from the country where we live. So, here we are, working together, showing our books, art and dreams to the communities we now belong to. When we support each other, we become stronger, because each author has connections in Brazil and in the country where she or he lives.

Are there any new plans or developments that you want to give us a peek into that you’re thinking about doing?

Right now I’m working to promote my new book, The Girl and the Jaguar, as well as the bilingual e-books of The Pink Dolphin’s Son. The good news about the e-books is that there are three versions of it: English-Portuguese, German-Portuguese and English-German. On the top of it all, in 2013 Brazil is the “guest country” of the Frankfurt book fair, which is the world biggest book fair. WaldeMar and a few friends will be coming to Germany to attend it, so until October I have a lot to do!

Are you still currently living in Vienna?

We have moved to Augsburg, in the south of Germany. However, the connection to Vienna is quite strong. For example, last weekend I presented my second book to Austro-Brazilian students. According to the teacher who organized the event, Mrs. Daniella Ringdorfer, there were around 80 people, students and their families. For me, it was a wonderful experience, since my books are dedicated to bilingual people, little and big ones.

Would you like to add anything else about your new book “The Girl and the Jaguar” or your project in Germany?

Thanks to the magic illustrations of Judit Fortelny The Girl and the Jaguar has been helping to increase people’s awareness of the Amazon forest cause. Special thanks to my family and friends, who kindly support my work in Brazil, Europe, India, Canada, USA and Japan, the list is quite long! Finally, I want to thank the two teachers, her students and parents, who prepared everything in Vienna for the first presentation of my new book: Mrs. Daniella Ringdorfer and Mrs. Claudia Branco Pereira.

Thank you.

Educa Vision and Educa Brazil links to order Alexandra’s books  “The girl and the jaguar” and “The son of the pink-dolphin”