By: Laurel Neme
Illustrated by: Kathie Kelleher
Publisher: Bunker Hill Publishing Inc.
Publication Date: October 2014
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: February 19, 2015
Fu Manchu was a ‘tweener with a twinkle in his eye. He was a twelve-year-old orangutan on a mission and only Heavy Lamar could help him. Maybe, just maybe she could help him get that metal strand he so needed to escape. Heavy Lamar smiled, as orangutans do, and accepted a cookie in exchange for that strand. Now what would an orangutan want with a little bit of wire? Fu Manchu could turn into the Houdini of the Henry Doorly Zoo, that’s what! Soon he was fiddling with the lock that would help his troop escape. A little wiggle here, a little wiggle there and the door was open! They were off to see the elephants.
The elephants “barely noticed the five balls of red fur dotting the trees,” but zookeeper Jerry Stones noticed. Fu had done a little wiggle here, a little wiggle there with that metal strand and was happily playing in the trees. Jerry cooed up at Fu, but no thank you, he wasn’t coming down ... yet. For a while all was calm at the zoo, but he was once again becoming a little restless. It was off to the elephant corral and the elm trees once again. This time when they returned, Jerry was determined it wouldn’t happen again, but it did. “I’ll fire the person responsible,” Jerry shouted at the staff. Was Fu Manchu going to get everyone in big trouble or would someone figure out what he was doing?
Fu Manchu is a mischievous orangutan on a mission that will fascinate young readers. Of course this is a mystery from the outside looking in because the reader knows exactly how Fu is making those very unusual visits to the elephants. By default, they will also learn quite a bit about orangutans and their behavior. For example, Fu has a special way of letting Jerry know just who’s boss. We can also see how Jerry reacts to his behaviors. The artwork pops with appeal and definitely brings the tale to life. Although the book is in picture book format, it’s geared toward the confident reader. This is an excellent stepping stone for students to learn more about primate behavior. In the back of the book there’s more information about the ‘real’ Fu Manchu with additional resources on the author’s website.
Quill says: Fu Manchu is one mischievous orangutan that will make everyone want to learn about endangered species, especially primates!