Reviewer Lois C. Henderson: Lois is a freelance academic editor and back-of-book indexer, who spends most of her free time compiling word search puzzles for tourism and educative purposes. Her puzzles are available HERE and HERE Her Twitter account (@LoisCHenderson) mainly focusses on the toponymy of British place names. Please feel welcome to contact her with any feedback at LoisCourtenayHenderson@gmail.com.
Author: Gabriella Francine, with Solara Vayanian
Publisher: BBM Books
This reader on orangutans is the first to emerge from the BBM Books stable, which was begun in 2012 with the intention of providing, among other educational and stewardship aids, books geared towards teaching children about the need for caring for endangered species that, without human intervention, would inevitably die out. Although the basic reader in this case is directed at conveying a sound ecological message, which will be of dire consequence if we do little, or nothing, about it, the tone of the work is far from sombre. In fact, one gains the idea that the author and her team have gone out of their way to make reading Let’s Make a Difference: We Can Help Orangutans an enjoyable experience to share with friends and family alike. Getting the whole family involved is the key to expanding a positive outlook in terms of the environmental movement, after all.
All except for the single page of Let’s Make a Difference: We Can Help Orangutans, which provides a list of “some organizations that work to protect the orangutans and their homes, the rainforest”, are in full color. Many of the numerous photographs picture the young as they go about their daily activities of eating, sleeping and playing. The many different ways in which they resemble human children are emphasised both in the drawings and photos, as well as in the text itself.
Just enough is said about orangutans on each page to make you eager to continue reading, making this book really enticing. Even on pages that largely feature illustrations, an “Orangutan Fun Fact” is included in the form of an inset. An example of such a “fun fact” is “Orangutans can get mosquito bites, too! Since they don’t have fly swatters in the wild, they use branches to drive them away.”
Throughout the book, the orangutans are portrayed not only in relationship to one another, but also to their environment. The stressing of the role that humans have played in the shrinkage of their habitat, as well as what they can now do to protect the few thousand still living on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra is done in such a way as to rouse the enthusiasm of children to participate in the conservation effort. From the smallest task of collecting coins to place in a money jar, through to visiting the orangutans at the Indianapolis and San Diego zoos (and even abroad, if you are one of those fortunate enough to travel to Indonesia, and are within range of a care center), the reader is encouraged to invest their resources, no matter how little, in a way that will make a difference for this endangered species.
For anyone who is keen on inculcating a love of wildlife and great causes in their kids, Let’s Make a Difference: We Can Help Orangutans, is an extremely worthwhile investment. A copy should also be made easily accessible through all school and public libraries, so that the message of conservation reaches even those whose parents are not environmentally enlightened.