Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear

A middle grade graphic novel adventure based on a true story, in which a young conservationist overcomes the odds to save and return a sun bear to its natural habitat. When endlessly curious and tenacious Chang discovers a bear bile farm near her home in Vietnam, she decides to do everything she can to save wild animals—by becoming a conservationist! After teaching herself survival skills, documenting each rainforest plant and animal she sees in her field notebook, and disproving the critics who think she isn’t old enough or strong enough, Chang is finally accepted as a rescue center volunteer. But her toughest challenge yet comes when she’s tasked with returning Sorya—the sun bear she raised from infancy—back into the wild. Because despite beinga different species, Sorya is Chang’s bestfriend. And letting a friend go is nevereasy . . . even when it’s the right thing to do. With breathtaking art and STEM facts galore, Chang’s daring story is for any young reader, animal lover, and intrepid explorer (Source)!

Author(s): Trang Nguyen & Jeet Zdung

Trang Nguyen grew up in Vietnam, where the demand for wildlife and their body parts is high. From an early age, she dreamt of becoming a wildlife conservationist, so she went to the UK to study conservation. But life had another quest lined up for her. During the rhino poaching crisis in Africa where Vietnam was recognised as one of the main consumers, traders and transit countries, Trang focused her attention on the illegal wildlife trade in Vietnam, and internationally. When she was just 23 years old, she founded her Conservation NGO WildAct. Trang has also worked for a number of international conservation organizations, such as Flora & Fauna International, Wildlife Conservation Society and TRAFFIC – monitoring the illegal wildlife trade. In 2018, Trang finished her PhD in Biodiversity Management at the University of Kent, England. Her research  focused on the impact of wild animal part use in Traditional Asian Medicine on the African wildlife (Source).

Illustrator Jeet Zdung’s breathtaking illustrations, in the tradition of classical Vietnamese art, capture the forest and the creatures that inhabit it. Eye-popping colors of exotic animals, painstaking details, varying hues, and shadowing create the lushness of the forest with breathtaking beauty. Chang’s extraordinary field notebook, in which she records her observations, is a STEM teacher’s dream. Zdung uses pages from the notebook to tell the story. Chang details her discoveries as well as some of the equipment and personal things she has brought with her. Zdung’s interest in manga art is evident in some illustrations and how the characters are portrayed, which creates an interesting juxtaposition of traditional and contemporary art styles. Black-and-white illustrations in manga style blur otherwise disturbing images of abuse and death. But Chang’s persistence determination, and passion, distract from the few disturbing images in the story … and give us hope (Source).

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