A new book from the
Azores is touching hearts around the world
By Nancy Matos
children’s book help introduce the Azores to the world? Flipping through the
bilingual book Néveda nos Açores / Néveda in Azores, written by
Portuguese-Canadian author Terry Costa, one’s curiosity will definitely be
piqued as Néveda travels through all nine islands of the remote Portuguese
plant common on the island of Pico, Azores, where Costa calls home, the
adventurous Néveda tours the globe, visiting the Statue of Liberty in New York,
to the great pyramids of Egypt. It so happens that one day, she lands in the
Azores and sets out to discover each island. Thanks to this free spirit, the
reader is introduced to the Azores, which come alive through the endearing
illustrations of Graciosa Island-born Vera Bettencourt.
adventures," says Costa. "I want to make the Azores known to more people around
the world. The potential with this book can be much more than any other Azorean
(Terry Costa and Vera Ataíde Bettencourt at BAOBÁ livraria)
character’s journey through the volcanic islands is highlighted by typical
Azorean sights. The "Green Island" of São Miguel is depicted through its dense
pastures and lagoons, which Néveda stops to admire before setting off to Corvo,
the smallest island in the Azores. Readers familiar with the island will
delight in seeing her clad in the traditional blue and white wool cap Corvo is
known for, as she checks out its noted windmills.
picturesque cliffs and cascading waterfalls of the stunning island, charmingly
painted on the page. The story is told as much through the illustrations as the
words, a simple line of text accompanying the inviting imagery special to these
islands. But Costa wants to make it clear that the book is not just for kids.
children, this is just a way to categorize books," he says. "The book, and
Néveda, are for the child in all of us."
through his arts and culture organization MiractecArts, based in Pico. It seems
creating an outdoor art gallery, Galeria Costa, situated in his family’s
vineyards where artists from around the world decorate the landscape, or
organizing the world’s most remote fringe festival, Azores Fringe, and other
arts festivals, weren’t enough: he needed to write a book, too.
in the islands, for either children in the Azores or readers around the world
who do not yet know the archipelago," says Costa.
visual arts teacher in Lisbon, to bring Néveda to life. After much dedication
and planning, the book was launched at the animation festival AnimaPIX, another
MiratecArts project, last December in Pico. It was warmly received by children
and adults alike, who attended personal readings by the author and illustrator
at the festival.
chance to get to know Néveda, as Costa recently brought the book to the other
side of the world. He was accompanied by a Néveda puppet and plush doll, both
designed by Bettencourt – just another way for people to become acquainted with
the story, and the Azores.
Néveda – the book, doll and puppet – can be a unique tool for promoting the
Azores. We’re challenging the commercial world, entrepreneurs, investors, to
bet on this flower girl that I invented and that Vera Bettencourt designed,"
and starring in countless plays (he holds a BA in Theatre from Sheridan
College, and in Drama and Film Studies from the University of Toronto
Mississauga) to founding MiratecArts in his parent’s homeland, the book started
with an idea. Either inspired by a dream, like his upcoming performance piece Monstro / Monster, or in this case, a
volcano on a magical island group in the middle of the Atlantic ocean.
Pico, the highest point in Portugal that surrounds the island with an
atmosphere some describe as mystical, even emotional.
"Pedras Negras", people tell me they find it so easy to write…there is
something about this island, this mountain," Costa explains. "I want to
encourage young people to also create, to use their imagination, to dream a
little further. Maybe this book will inspire them."
spends some delightful days exploring Pico, with its famous vineyards that grow
amid lava rocks, where her namesake flower blooms, and where the beloved bright
green regional liquor nêveda flows. She even decides to take a nap on the very
top of the mountain, nestling in the "piquinho" crater, some 2,351 metres
further, and is being embraced by people who don’t even know where the Azores
are. Seeing kids in Sydney and Doha turning the pages of the book, smiling and
enjoying themselves, was such a thrill," says Costa.
Costa and Bettencourt, who plan to bring more endearing tales in a series of
books. There’s still a whole world to discover, after all.
all nine islands of the Azores, and in bookstores specializing in childrens’
literature and illustration in Lisbon, Porto and Oeiras. It will soon be
available in other cities, as well as travelling to Canada and the US. To order
a copy online visit mirateca.com
Portuguese-Canadian writer and journalist, with parents hailing from Pico and
Faial, Azores. Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, after her family emigrated
Canada, Nancy has been
writing about the global Luso community for more than a decade.
She is a graduate of
the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia
Technology in Vancouver. Her career in broadcast, online and print media has
taken her around the
globe, from Beijing to London, and now, Portugal. Nancy’s work has
been featured in RTP
Açores, Triângulo Magazine, China Daily, CBC News and CTV News Canada.
She currently resides
in Horta, Faial where she enjoys a daily view of Pico Mountain from her house.