Endangered by Eliot Schrefer
A lot of people have never heard of bonobos. They used to be called "pygmy chimpanzees," but they’re not. But if you read this book, you won’t get a whole lecture about bonobos like the one I was about to write, because you’ll pick up stuff about them as you go along.
Sophie is a girl who’s half African and half American. She returns from the US, where she lives with her father, to stay with her Mom in the Congo for the summer. She has always resented the bonobos her mother takes care of, because her mother chose to stay in Africa instead of going to the States with her and her father. But as the book opens, Sophie saves a baby bonobo from a mean trader, and she ends up getting attached to it.
Even when a rebellion breaks out in the Congo and Sophie is separated from her Mom and the other sanctuary workers, she decides to stay with little Otto and the other apes. She survives in the jungle by trying to imitate the bonobos. She has to fit into their group and show them she can stick up for herself, too. Meanwhile, she and Otto have to evade rebel soldiers, snakes and other dangers.
You won’t be shielded from the realities of war when reading Endangered. And different ethical questions aren’t answered in a simple manner. Are human lives or animal lives more important? What’s the best means of nature conservation in a country full of poor, hungry people? Should Americans be airlifted out of a country at war when local people are left behind? etc.
Find Out More
After you read Endangered, you might want to go on & check out these library materials which are recommended by the author:
- Bonobo Handshake: A Memoir of Love and Adventure in the Congo, by Vanessa Wood
- The Last Great Ape [videorecording], produced and directed by Steve Greenwood
Vaughn Harrison works at Half Moon Bay Library and on the Bookmobile. She has close family ties to Africa.