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Book: Face to Face with Orangutans
Authors and Illustrators: Tim Laman and Cheryl Knott
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books, 2009
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading Level: Ages 7-11
Rating: 5 stars EXCELLENT
Reviewed by Wayne Walker
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Laman, Tim, and Knott, Cheryl. Face to Face with Orangutans (published in 2009 by National Geographic Children’s Books). Do you know what kind of animal King Louie on Walt Disney’s film The Jungle Book was? If you said monkey, you’d be wrong. He was an ape. But what kind? Gorilla? Chimpanzee? No. Orangutan. Do you know where orangutans live? The story of The Jungle Book takes place in India, yet orangutans live only in Borneo and Sumatra, islands of the Indonesian archipelago off southeast Asia, although one source that I read says that in the past they were found in China and Java. Do you know what orangutans eat? They prefer fruits and nuts, but they also like termites as a snack! However, they do not eat bananas, at least in the wild, because bananas do not grow in the rain forest which is their natural habitat. Do you know what the word “orangutan” means? In the Indonesian language it means “person of the forest” because long ago local people realized how similar orangutans are to people.
In this book, authors and photographers Tim Laman and Cheryl Knott take us “up close and personal” with some of the orangutans of Gunung Palung National Park on Borneo, such as Jari Manis who, when it started to rain, grabbed some leafy branches and held them over his head to block the rain like an umbrella. They tell about orangutan life. Where do orangutans live? In trees. In fact, they are the world’s largest arboreal or tree-living animals. Laman and Knott also talk about what the future holds for orangutans. Side bars contain information on how to tell monkeys from apes, how to speak orangutan, and how one must study orangutans. Also there are five pages in the back with suggestions on how we can help orangutans and learn more about them, facts at a glance, a glossary, and a bibliography of books, articles, films, and websites for more information, as well as an index for reference. When it comes to learning about orangutans, don’t let anyone “make a monkey out of you,” but get this book and read all about this amazing animal.