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An Evening with Alastair Sawday

20th October, 2021, Steyning Cricket Club

Gorilla Dawn

The latest book from vet turned children’s writer Gill Lewis, author of the best-selling animal novels ‘Sky Hawk’, ‘White Dolphin’ and ‘Moon Bear’, widens her scope with an ambitious and moving story set in the rainforests of the Congo. It follows the plight of two children, Imara and Bobo, held captive by a group of rebel soldiers who have set up an illegal mineral mine in a National Park area. The rebels have also captured a baby gorilla, who Imara nurses back to health and forms a strong bond with. When Bobo and Imara learn that the gorilla is destined to be sold into captivity, they vow to return him to the wild before it’s too late. But the consequences of betraying the rebel soldiers are grim. Will they have the courage to carry out their plan, and will Bobo find out what happened to his park-ranger father?
So far, so earnest – but this is an exciting read, with really engaging characters, which manages to be very informative about the troubles faced by African rainforests being ‘blood-mined’ for minerals like coltan (used in mobile phones), without being ‘preachy’. With sympathetic, plucky boy and girl characters and a story which is moving without being sentimental, this is a really great, consciousness-raising read for readers of both genders, aged 9-14.