At the center of this tale based on a true story is an adorable baby gorilla whose mother does not know how to take care of him.
When Umande is born on a winter night at the zoo, “[h]e cries, as if to say ‘Will you hold me?’ ” Unfortunately none of the other gorillas do. Faulconer writes simply, describing the facts of the situation. Readers are immediately drawn into the challenge that the zookeepers face. Around the clock, human caregivers groom, feed and model appropriate gorilla behavior to help ensure his future survival. Hartung uses oil glazes on sealed paper that is then rubbed or scratched to create textured effects. This technique allows the snowflakes to seem as if they are drifting off the page, and in other scenes, readers can almost feel the tufts of yellow hay that makes up Umande’s enclosed habitat. When he is about 8 months old, zookeepers decide to try and find a female gorilla at another zoo who can be a mother to Umande. Children will delight in seeing Umande peeking out the window of a plane and ultimately, over a period of weeks, connecting with Lulu, the gorilla who will be his new mom.
Not only a special adoption story, but also a heartwarming look at the human-animal relationship. (note) (Picture book. 5-8)