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Book Reviews & Recognitions

The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends - Guardians of the Forest - Front Cove
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5 Star Review:

"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 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."


- Emily-Jane Hills Orford @


5 Star Review:

"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."


- Vincent Dublado @


5 Star Review:

"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."


- Philip Van Heusen @


5 Star Review:

"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."


- Pikasho Deka @

4 out of 4 stars - Official review of
"The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing and Friends"

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Folotjing IndieReader Review
Children’s book, kindness, love, humility, courageous, brave, enchanted, fable, magic, magical, fantasy, journey, adventure, hero’s journey, hero, monster, true hero, tiny hero, home, forest, animals, wild beast, terror, bullying, friends, making friends, redemption, forgiveness, confidence, believe

Rio N. Cortez receives national recognition
through the 2021 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD®!


The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing: The Brave and Kindhearted

in the category of Picture Books: All Ages as a Distinguished Favorite.

"We congratulate this year's 2021 winners and distinguished favorites in the annual INDEPENDENT
PRESS AWARD. The quality and quantity of excellent independently published books hit a record.
Independents recognized are thriving around the globe. We are so proud to announce these key titles
representing global independent publishing
." said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.

For more information and to see this year's list of IPA Winners and Distinguished Favorites, please visit the website
pages: or


RIO N. CORTEZ receives national recognition through the 2020 NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD®!

(Fountain Valley, CA) -- The 2020 NYC BIG BOOK AWARD recognized The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing - The Brave and Kindhearted - Written and Illustrated by Rio N. Cortez in the category of “Picture Books: All Ages” as a “Distinguished Favorite”.

The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers, and professional copywriters. Selected award winners and distinguished favorites are based on overall excellence.

In 2020, the NYC Big Book Award once again achieved worldwide participation.  Entries remained strong during the worldwide pandemic. Book submissions streamed in from six continents and over 100 cities. Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America all participated.  Across the globe, book entries poured in from places such as Budapest, Capetown, London, Los Angeles, Mumbai, New York City, Port of Spain, Vancouver, and Victoria, to name a few.  Winners were recognized globally from Australia, Canada, England, India, Singapore, Uganda, and the United States of America, among others.  

The breadth of publishers ranged from Amazon to Wiley, from Black Rose Writing to She Writes Press.  Our award-winning authors are from all kinds of different backgrounds and enrich the program.  We are proud of such diversity of winners and distinguished favorites in the annual NYC Big Book Award.  

“We are pleased to highlight these books, recognize their excellence, and share their achievements.” said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.  The awards program “foments a strong interest in these authors and publishing houses and we expect our winners and favorites to receive a heightened level of attention.”  Olczak went on to say that “excellent books can be found globally, and we are happy to help bring them to a larger audience.”  

For more information, please visit:

To view the list of winners, visit

Distinguished Favorites listed here:

NYC Big Book Awards - Folotjing as Distinguished Favorite

Folotjing is clever a story about a small creature who shows amazing kindness and compassion, even when treated poorly by other creatures who he comes in contact with within the story. 


Rio N. Cortez is the author and illustrator of Folotjing.  His illustrations are beautiful, as they capture the spirit and essence of the story and message.  I would highly recommend Folotjing as an ideal read for students at the upper primary or middle school reading levels. 

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A wonderful story with a great theme.

A wonderful story with a great theme.  My students loved hearing the story of the Magnificent Fojotjing.  Thank you for sharing the story with my class!

- Mrs. Amanda Varrone 5th Grade Teacher
Courreges Elementary School.

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5 Star Review:

"The Magical Adventures of Folotjing – The Brave and Kindhearted is a fantastically whimsical picture book written for children, and it was penned and illustrated by author Rio N. Cortez. Focusing on plot themes such as the power of kindness, mind over matter, and the true nature of heroic acts, this is an engaging read with high levels of visual stimulation in its gorgeous accompanying artwork. Folotjing is a dwendi, a creature from Filipino folklore who is tiny and magical, and whom only children can see. In this adventure, which takes place in a dark forest, our little friend shows immense bravery and wins the day through kindness despite the dangers he faces.

"Author and illustrator Rio N. Cortez has created an utterly delightful story from start to finish with the immersive and truly beautiful stories of Folotjing. The sweet little dwendi is charming, both in the colorful and sepia-toned pages of the picture book and in the lovingly crafted poetic verses and dialogue where he shows his incredible kindness. The moment with the wolf melted my heart from the off. There is a rhyme scheme that keeps the readability flowing for younger, accompanied readers to the book, but it also never interferes with the language usage and the scheme changes to fit different moments of the story. Deceptively complex in its creation, this gives each moment of the tale a different atmospheric feel whilst also staying simple enough for younger readers to access it. Overall, The Magical Adventures of Folotjing – The Brave and Kindhearted is an unmissable picture book that every child should own."


- By K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite @


5 Star Review:

"The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing - The Brave and Kindhearted is a well-intended, adorable, and wonderfully drawn and written book by Rio. N Cortez. The illustrations are colorful and they definitely caught my eye. Cortez’s illustrations are sure to attract and entertain its target audience. I found it to be a visually appealing book that has many important lessons to be learned. The story itself is short, to the point, and very sweet. Folotjing is easily captured because of his height and size but he makes up for it by being sharp, brave, and oh-so-kind.

"We have learned in life that it is not easy to forgive someone who means to cause you harm and Cortez skillfully presents this dilemma in a short but concise way. When Folotjing hesitates before helping the bear, I sympathized with him. It is realistic and smart to stop and think first before you head back into possible danger, but even though the bear first intended to do harm on the small Dwendi, Folotjing still goes back to help him anyway. Folotjing’s actions teach me the importance of a good heart. I think this book is outstanding because it managed to convey such important lessons in two short stories. Truly a marvelous work, good job!"


- By Jessica Barbosa for Readers’ Favorite @


5 Star Review:

"Rio N. Cortez’s mythological adventure book for children, The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing - The Brave and Kindhearted, introduces young readers to a Dwendi whose natural senses of goodness and kindness seem to keep him not only safe but help him make good friends throughout the forest he calls home. I was fascinated by this vulnerable yet quick-thinking little creature and loved reading about his adventures. Each fable shows kids how to be generous, forgive others and live by their word. Cortez also illustrated his book, and the pen-and-ink drawings on sepia-toned paper work perfectly with the stories he includes. I’m hoping to encounter Folotjing in his other adventures. The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing - The Brave and Kindhearted is most highly recommended."


- By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite @

IndieReader Folotjing Review

THE MAGNIFICENT ADVENTURES OF FOLOTJING by Rio N. Cortez is a whimsical book captures the reader’s interest from the start, with its papery background and simply sketched drawings; one can easily imagine that these pages have come from an ancient collection of folktales about wonder and magic. This impression is further supported by the book’s rhyme scheme and its division into short tales, each of which teaches a lesson of kindness by using Folotjing’s actions as an example, without being too preachy or moralistic.

3 out of 4 Star Review:

"The Magnificent Adventures of Folotjing the Brave and Kindhearted by Rio N. Cortez is a fun children’s book about the mythical Dwendi, Folotjing. He’s a clever creature who lives in the forest. Although some of the other animals try to pick on little Folotjing, he shows that kindness is the best way to get out of trouble and make a new friend at the same time.

This story is both adorable and original, which makes it a refreshing change from other children’s books. The author has created a fun, likeable protagonist but doesn’t spend too much time trying to describe him or introduce him to the reader. Instead, he allows Folotjing’s actions to speak for him, and the reader comes to know him through his kindness and willingness to help others. The charm of this book is only increased by the illustrations included, which look like line drawings from older children’s books and evoked a sense of nostalgia when I saw them."


- By Juliana Isabella @

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The book is now available at these online bookstores
Folotjing at Amazon
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