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Reviewed by Peggy Jo Wipf for Readers' Favorite
Joyce Major entertains us in The Orangutan Rescue Gang when Jaylynn has a connection with an orphaned orangutan because she also feels abandoned and lonely without her mother. Her father doesn’t understand the important need she has to rescue this wild animal and reunite it with its mother. Children are resilient, but the author sees into the heart of this child and understands her train of thought. Jaylynn misses her mother and is hurt that she chose a job over her. Jaylynn is so consumed by the rescue of Little O that she makes several poor decisions. She recruits a few friends to help her, but she finds that without an adult to help, she has lied, forged a letter, and snuck out of the house. Though she has done wrong and will have to face her father, is she is doing the best for this baby orangutan?
The Orangutan Rescue Gang is so much more than a child’s book about orangutans; it is a piece of history in Joyce Major’s life. She is a veteran in world travel and volunteering in remote places that require an English teacher. Joyce is an advocate for animals in danger, particularly orangutans. Her character, Jaylynn, is a complicated girl who represents millions of girls whose parents are separated. The author astonishes readers with the correlation between Jaylynn’s feelings of abandonment by her mother with the little creature chained up and beaten by the Maniac Man. Readers will enjoy the ending, though it differs from the original plan. The author’s involvement in caring for orangutans and raising awareness is commendable. I think children will really enjoy this novel.