Eliot Schrefer. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (272p) ISBN 978-0-545-65503-3
In the third installment of the Ape Quartet (following 2014’s Endangered), two-time National Book Award finalist Schrefer tackles the plight of orangutans and how their vulnerability in the wild leads to unexpected consequences. In this case, it brings the issue to America, in the form of Raja, an orangutan stolen from Indonesia as a baby and adopted as a pet by a well-meaning, if ignorant, family. Sixteen-year-old John has grown up with Raja; the two are practically brothers, despite a childhood incident that cost John a finger. When John’s parents separate, so do boy and ape, but after John’s father sells Raja to a sketchy roadside zoo, John risks everything to rescue his one-time companion. Their journey brings them to Sumatra, where John understands the true scope of the problem facing Raja’s species. Schrefer paints a powerful picture of the cost of exploiting nature, the demands of agriculture, and the complexities of globalization, and the portrayal of Raja as an intelligent, complex individual is gripping and heartbreaking. Schrefer continues to be a vital voice for wildlife conservation and ape empathy. Ages 12–up. Agent: Richard Pine, Inkwell Management. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/25/2016
Release date: 04/26/2016
Genre: Children's
MP3 CD - 978-1-5200-3418-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-5200-3414-0
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