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Children's Fiction Apes, Monkeys, Etc.


by (author) Michelle Kadarusman

Pajama Press Inc.
Initial publish date
Aug 2022
Apes, Monkeys, etc., Asia, School & Education, Values & Virtues, Environment
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2022
    List Price

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Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 8 to 12
  • Grade: 3 to 7


An honest and stirring novel about the choices made by young environmental activists, and the balancing act between consequence and triumph

Malia has had a privileged upbringing in Indonesia, but since her Indonesian father died, her Canadian mother wants to return to her own family on the other side of the world. Malia is determined to stay. Indonesia is her home, and she loves it. Besides, if she leaves, how can she continue to fight for her country’s precious rainforests?

Ari knows he is lucky to be going to school and competing on the chess team, even if it means an endless round of chores at his uncle’s restaurant. Back in his home village, he and his cousin Suni dreamed about getting a chance like this. But now he is here without her, and the guilt is crushing him. As if that weren’t enough, he’s horribly worried about Ginger Juice, his uncle’s orangutan. The too-small cage where she lives is clearly hurting her body and her mind, but where else can she go? The rainforest where she was born is a palm oil plantation now.

In Berani, Governor General’s Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman spins together three perspectives: Malia, who is prepared to risk anything for her activism, Ari, who knows the right path but fears what it will cost, and Ginger Juice, the caged orangutan who still remembers the forest and her mother. The choices the young people make will have consequences for themselves, for Ginger Juice, and for others, if they are brave enough—or reckless enough—to choose.

About the author

Michelle Kadarusman is a multi-award-winning author of middle-grade novels, including Music for Tigers, The Theory of Hummingbirds, and the Governor General’s Award finalist Girl of the Southern Sea. Born in Melbourne, Australia, Michelle has also lived in Indonesia and Canada; today she splits her time between Toronto, Canada, and Byron Bay, Australia. Room for More, Michelle’s first picture book, was inspired by Australian wildlife sheltering in wombat burrows during the devastating Australian bush fires of 2019–2020.


Michelle Kadarusman's profile page


  • Commended, Junior Library Guild selection

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Berani

2022 Freeman Book Awards Winner for Young Adult / Middle School Literature

2022 Junior Library Guild selection

2023 TD Summer Reading Club Top Recommended Reads Selection

2022 Ontario Library Association "Best Bets" Selection

2022 Quill & Quire “Our Environment: A Helping Hand” Feature

2022 The Children’s Book Council “August: Hot Off the Press” feature

2022 CTV Your Morning “Back to school books” Feature

49th Shelf “Most Anticipated: Our 2022 Books for Young Readers Fall Preview” Feature

49th Shelf “New Fall 2022 Books” Feature

The Hamilton Review of Books' Independently Published Bestsellers List: November 2022

“[T]his moving middle grade novel will keep kids interested. Readers will be putting the pieces of the plot together as they turn each compelling page….A perfect choice to give to fans of The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, and an inspiring tale in support of environmental conservation.”—School Library Journal

A stirring introduction to the plight faced by orangutans.”—Kirkus Reviews

“The expansive story, nimbly told from both human and orangutan viewpoints, gives glimpses into different class, race, and even species experiences while introducing readers to life in Indonesia and the plight of the orangutans…A compelling call to action and a crucial reminder that, while doing what is right is not always easy, it is always worthwhile.”—Booklist

“Kadarusman’s novel exudes the positive message that everyone can make a difference while also reminding readers that there are always consequences – good or bad - to the choices one makes and that many situations are not as black and white as we perceive….Highly Recommended”—CM Magazine

“Berani by Michelle Kadarusman is a perfect book for international schools… A fantastic read that shows kids (and readers of all ages) to believe in their values and that they, too, can change the world.”—The International Educator

Berani is a powerful middle-grade story about animal activism set in Indonesia…The story is exciting and engaging, with strong character development…. Berani is ideal for animal lovers or readers interested in activism and would also be a good choice for book clubs. Highly recommended for readers aged nine to 12.”—Books + Publishing

“A book about bravery and doing what's right, standing up for the voiceless, and what we owe one another, Berani is a powerful, bittersweet, and engrossing story that can help blow the spark of environmentalism in young readers into a flame.”—Open Book

“[Michelle Kadarusman’s] novels have a compelling way of unraveling complex world issues for children and teens. Her latest middle-grade novel, Berani, is no exception…Kadarusman draws on the plight of orangutans while offering up a narrative steeped in empathy and inspiration for youth.”—CBC Books

“From memorable, courageous characters to thought-provoking themes, Berani has it all… Kadarusman expertly explores how doing the right thing isn’t always easy, and what is easy isn’t always right. Berani is a multilayered, nuanced novel with a strong message: “One person can make a difference.””—The Canadian Children’s Book Centre

“Michelle Kadarusman has authored another fabulous novel for middle-grade students that delves into the issues that Indonesia is facing regarding their rainforests and orangutan population…. I think young readers will thoroughly appreciate and enjoy reading this latest offering by Kadarusman and perhaps be inspired to become social activists themselves.”—CCBC Book News

“This author was a Governor General’s Award finalist for her 2019 book, GIRL OF THE SOUTHERN SEA, and I will pick up anything she writes. Still, the stunning cover of BERANI designed by Peggy Collins will draw readers to this story told from three different points of view that focus on environmental activism in Indonesia...These three perspectives weave together into a moving and inspiring story about standing up for what you believe.”—Kathie MacIsaac

“Michelle Kadarusman’s latest middle grade book, Berani, was a great read… Each voice is unique, and each story is connected to the other…I look forward to reading it again.”—Book Time

Michelle Kadarusman always writes from the heart. The love she has for the places she writes about is evident throughout all her stories and none more than in Berani...If you enjoyed The One and Only Ivan, put Berani on your TBR list. I think you will love it even more.”—Storytime with Stephanie

“[A] powerful story that needs to be told…. it dealt with important and heavy issues in a way that is accessible to younger readers…. I hope people love this story just as much as I did.”—The Book Muse

“[A] great way to start conversations about our world, and our responsibilities as inhabitants of it….Berani, which I would rate 9 out of 10 stars, is definitely worth a read!”—CanLit for LittleCanadians

“What an awesome book! ... [Michelle Kadarusman] has such a talent for creating worlds…this book was a treasure to read.”—Mrs. Book Dragon

“Rating: ★★★★★…This was a touching and emotional story…it’s important to read these types of stories because they reflect real world problems. [A] beautiful middle grade story.”—Jill’s Book Blog

“Berani by [Michelle Kadarusman] captivates, inspires, and gives hope. This tale takes you to Indonesia through three perspectives interwoven with culture, environment, and character growth.”—@westmaplemedia

“This fine novel, set in Indonesia is a story of activism and animal rights, choices and consequences…my guess [is] it will be on several Canadian award lists in the year ahead.”—Dr. Larry Recommends

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