Pongo by Jesse Hodgson

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Pongo by Jesse Hodgson

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald
Reviewed by Lorraine McDonald
Summary: A heart warming story of how a damp and lonely orangutan reached for the sun and found a special friend.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2013
Publisher: Flying Eye Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781909263093

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The rainforest is not all it’s cracked up to be. It may be a beautiful and important eco system but one of the residents is not a happy ape. Pongo the orangutan is wet and lonely. He lives in the depths of the forest and yearns for the warmth of the sun. He’s heard it’s bright and orange, just like him, so he sets out to find it.

Pongo begins his adventure through the trees. As he swings up to the top of the canopy he mistakes some fellow orange rainforest residents for the sun. This has some embarrassing and perilous consequences involving bottoms and bees that made my boy and me giggle. Despite these set backs, he doesn’t give up until, with the help of a special friend, he sees the sun rise over the forest.

Orangutans are genetically one of our closest relatives. Look in to the eyes of this ape and it is impossible not to feel a connection. The story brings this out - we don’t just share genes, we share a love of warmth and light. The pictures bring this out too. Pongo peeks out shyly from behind foliage. Pongo uses a giant leaf as an umbrella as the rain lashes down. There is something touching and human about his behaviours and his aspirations.

And then the artwork… the artwork is so glorious I wanted to plunge my hand in to the page and rake through Pongo’s orange hair. The rainforest, and the animals, insects and birds that live there, are captured in the medium of soft pastel pencil. The pages of the story, the front cover, the back cover and the inner leaves are full colour spreads. The style is highly realistic. Each leaf and twig is accurately drawn. Each hair is clear. Gorgeous.

The depiction of the rainforest and Pongo’s behaviours and gestures is realistic. The illustrator’s observation of real orangutans brings life and movement to the drawings of the eponymous ape. In addition to the characters that Pongo mistakes for the sun, most pages contain an extra insect, animal or bird hiding in the leaves for the eagle eyed reader to spot. Whilst this is a work of fiction, there are sparks here to ignite a child’s interest in ecology and wildlife.

I don’t think it’s giving too much away to say that Pongo’s special friend is a lady. Don’t tell the kids, but it is a fact that male orangutans are solitary and only associate with females for one reason. If we are lucky, perhaps there will be a sequel?

If this book appeals then have a look at One Night, Far From Here by Julia Wauters.

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Buy Pongo by Jesse Hodgson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pongo by Jesse Hodgson at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Pongo by Jesse Hodgson at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Pongo by Jesse Hodgson at Amazon.com.


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