The Emerald Forest

The Emerald Forest
Catherine Ward and Karin Littlewood
Otter-Barry Books

A mother orangutan lives with her children in a green Sumatran forest that is teeming with wildlife. She teaches her little ones the vital life skills they need to survive but one day she hears a loud CRASH! that sends birds every which way and then she sees smoke starting to permeate the canopy. Orangutan moves her family away from the noise and smoke and for a time things are apparently back to normal.

Then again comes that terrible sound, raging like an enormous beast, accompanied by clouds of dark, dense smoke. Suddenly Orangutan and her tree are crashing earthwards.

At first it seems there’s no escaping the fires all around, but as the smoke starts to clear a smiling face and an outstretched hand appear. Help has come in the form of a woman who leads the orangutan mother and her family to a place of safety; a green, tree-filled place where they can live alongside other creatures.

The island of Sumatra has lost nearly half of its rainforest in the last thirty or so years but this poignant picture book is one of hope: the place where the fictional orangutan family found safety is based on the Bukit Tigapulu National Park on the island of Sumatra. (Notes inside the back cover give details of the Emerald Forest setting of the story as well as facts about the critically endangered orangutans.)

Author Catherine Ward’s passion for wildlife conservation is apparent in her compelling prose and Karin Littlewood’s pictures have a power and poignancy of their own that makes the book even more impactful.

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