I’m having an Orangutan summer. I reviewed UNDAUNTED last month, the non-fiction story of scientist Birute Mary Galdikas and her efforts to save orangutans in Borneo. Today I’m featuring a new fiction title by Joyce Major, a middle grade adventure set in Sumatra.

THE PLOT (from AMAZON): When eleven-year-old Jaylynn moves from Seattle to Sumatra, she discovers an endangered baby orangutan chained to a wall by his mean owner, 51kO+j2TFgL._SX311_BO1,204,203,200_Maniac Man. Quickly she pieces together her mission: steal the baby orangutan, then return him to the rain forest. Unable to rescue him on her own, she asks Bima and Zaqi, two Sumatran friends, to join her rescue gang. But first they must outfox Maniac Man. Then find the orangutan’s mother in the rainforest. Facing insurmountable obstacles, the gang struggles for solutions. When their friendship strains at the seams, they must find the understanding needed to work together and the courage to stand up of what they believe in or else Little O, the baby orangutan, will never return to the rainforest.

Includes an index with an action plan for readers and conservation lesson plans for teachers. All profits will go to orangutan conservation.

MY THOUGHTS: A gentle adventure sure to have you on the protagonsist’s side. Jaylynn narrates the story and at times speaks more like an adult. She does in fact have a huge adult like problem: How to save Little O, an orangutan she’s able to understand and share emotions. Jaylynn feels strongly about her quest and reverts to stealing money from her dad and lying so she can buy the baby orangutan. Her desperation is driven in part by her connection to Little O as they both are missing their moms.

Animal lovers and conservationists of all shapes and sizes will find the perfect story here. Most important is the compassion you will have for orangutans and their rain forest home. A helpful TEN THINGS YOU CAN DO TO HELP ORANGUTANS follows the tale.

orangutan-clip-art-18599385-cute-orangutan-cartoon-hanging-on-a-tree-branchFIVE THINGS TO LIKE ABOUT—


  1. The cover captures the emotion you’ll get by reading the story.
  2. Learning about these precious animals and the rain forests they call home.
  3. The culture of Sumatra comes through in Jaylynn’s daily interactions with her new friends and surroundings.
  4. With little help from adults, these three kids secretly carry out their plan with both trepidation and optimism. A perfect tension building combination.
  5. Thirty-four chapters were just the right length to take you through the eleven day adventure.


He watched me, his eyes pinned to mine like he understood. Squatting close enough to touch his back, I slowly reached my hand out, gradually, with no jerky movements, closer and closer and my fingers stretched out almost close enough to touch him, a few inches more, almost there…


Joyce Major has volunteered all over the world with kangaroos, lions, baboons, monkeys, and elephants. She has also taught English, volunteered in conservation and sustainability projects, with orphans, at a medical mission and even volunteered as a reporter in Ireland and on a radio station in Bolivia. She loves inspiring people to travel as a volunteer.

“As a former middle grade math teacher, I knew this book needed to be packed with action. Based on the reality of what I found in Indonesia during my 6 months volunteering to save orangutans, I filled it with all the problems they could face rescuing a baby orangutan from his miserable owner. I included the reality of the illegal pet trade, palm oil and the rain forest.” Joyce Major, author


I received a copy of the book for my honest review. Comments can be made below.

And this just in!!! Susan Uhlig won last week’s GIVEAWAY for a hardback edition of THE ECHO PARK CASTAWAYS. Congrats!

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, New Release and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Sue Heavenrich says:

    A conservation adventure mixed with some kid-ethics… sounds like a real winner. Thanks for sharing, Greg – I need to put this on my TBR list…

  2. Denise Valhalla says:

    Great sounding story and an important one. Thanks for the introduction.

  3. This sounds like an important story. I’m always glad to find books that carry conservation messages. Thanks for the heads up on this one.

  4. Kids making a difference in the world — my favorite kind of story. This sounds especially fun and yet carries a strong message. Nice choice.

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