Reviews for We Can Help Orangutans

ForeWord Clarion Reviews 2013 April

Little Malcolm, a baby orangutan, has the sort of face that children will love. In fact, after reading Let's Make a Difference: We Can Help Orangutans by Gabriella Francine, they can even help Malcolm and other endangered orangutans like him.

With bright pictures and an easy-to-read font, Francine's advocacy book covers ecosystem basics and simple concepts like why orangutans are endangered, who works to protect them, and how a regular kid can help, too. The author also details how monetary donations to organizations that help orangutans are likely to be used.

The first book in what the author plans as a Save Coins for Causes series, Let's Make a Difference highlights charitable foundations that help kids develop a global sense of responsibility. For donations, kids can pick from ten organizations that "work to protect the orangutans and their home, the rain forest." The author also suggests ways children can help for free, like encouraging their parents to use sustainable palm oil for cooking rather than oils that aren't sustainable or have a negative impact on the environment.

Elementary school students doing research projects on rain forests or orangutans will find this book resourceful, thanks to bold page titles and themed questions. Francine's book would also make great bedtime reading for younger children, who will adore the mix of real-life photographs and charming illustrations. Brilliantly colored photographs feature the daily life and habits of orangutans--adults and babies alike. Young children might enjoy seeing Malcolm tickled by his mother and fed by a volunteer with a baby's bottle, as well as when he is nibbling on leaves and learning to swing on trees.

Young readers will appreciate the book's sticky-note style "Fun Facts," which offer insight into orangutan behavior, like the fact that smooching noises and puckered lips don't mean that Malcolm wants a kiss--it means he wants to be left alone.

2013 Clarion Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Kirkus Reviews 2013 September #2
A naked appeal to support efforts to save these endangered primates. Heartstring-tugging photos of an orangutan mother and baby form the core of this well-intentioned title. Crudely drawn paintings of young activists (and one weeping orangutan) have been digitally collaged in--an unfortunate and distracting design decision. The narrative text, in large type, supplies background and "fun facts" about the animals' habits and behavior in the wild along with vague references to conservation efforts and warnings about their declining population due to habitat loss. The authors then go on to suggest that motivated readers who "live near or travel to Indonesia" can visit a "care center"--or, more feasibly, adopt a two-pronged strategy. Children are encouraged to save loose change in a jar to send to the several charitable organizations listed at the end and campaign for the use of only sustainable palm oil as a food ingredient. Children who don't know what "sustainable palm oil" is or why they should focus particularly on that product (that is, because Indonesia exports most of the world's supply) won't find out here, however. A worthy cause to support, but this is too superficial to light many fires: a brochure between hard covers. (Informational picture book. 6-8)

Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2013 September

K-Gr 2--The orangutan population is being severely impacted by the loss of the jungle habitat on which it depends for food and shelter; the primates now exist only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Timbering and palm oil farming are the greatest threats to these endangered creatures. In an attempt to interest readers in their plight, the authors try to humanize them and to show their many similarities to children. "Orangutans are a lot like you: smart, funny, handy." Full-color photographs mixed with cartoon characters show baby orangutans with their mothers, playing, and eating. Basic information, such as facts about diet and behavior, are presented. Text boxes offer random information, but little in the way of explanation. For example, it is noted that orangutans have opposable thumbs, but no reason is given as to why this is important. In order to help orangutans, children are encouraged to save their pennies, go to a bank, and exchange the coins for dollars. Then they are to ask an adult to use a credit card to send funds to one of the organizations listed. Children are also told they can help by using sustainable palm oil, but there is no explanation about how they would be able to find out which palm oils are acceptable and which are not. The illustrations may interest students who are curious about primates and may enhance their concern about endangered species, but the information is limited.--Eva Elisabeth VonAncken, formerly at Trinity-Pawling School, Pawling, NY

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