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Children's Fiction Apes, Monkeys, Etc.


by (author) Maureen Fergus

Kids Can Press
Initial publish date
Mar 2010
Apes, Monkeys, etc., General
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jan 2010
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2010
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 9 to 12
  • Grade: 4 to 7


With a thick finger he slowly traced the path of a stray raindrop that had landed near the corner of his eye and trickled down his cheek. And he thought to himself that it was probably a very good thing that gorillas didn't know how to cry.

Raised in a laboratory, Ortega might seem nearly human to his scientist-caregivers, but to the children at his new school, a talking gorilla is nothing but a freak. Unless he wants to spend the rest of his life locked in a cage, however, Ortega is going to have to change people's minds.

More than a comic-adventure novel, Ortega asks the reader to reflect upon the limits of science, imagine how it feels to be profoundly different from those around you and, most of all, consider what it really means to be human.

About the author


Maureen Fergus est auteure lauréate de plusieurs livres pour enfants et jeunes adultes, dont The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten, Et si je ne veux pas? et les livres de la série Buddy and Earl. Elle vit à Winnipeg, au Manitoba.


Maureen Fergus is an award-winning author of books for children and young adults, including The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten and the Buddy and Earl series of books. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Mike Lowery has illustrated many books for children, including The Day My Mom Came to Kindergarten and A Squiggly Story. Mike lives in Decatur, Georgia.


Maureen Fergus' profile page


  • Winner, McNally Robinson Book for Young People Award, Manitoba Writers' Guild
  • Short-listed, Diamond Willow Award, Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice Award
  • Winner, Best Books for Kids & Teens, Starred Selection, Canadian Children's Book Centre
  • Short-listed, Silver Birch Award, Ontario Library Association
  • Short-listed, Best Best Fiction, Ontario Library Association

Editorial Reviews

The story's excitement and suspense as well as the emotional drama will ensnare readers. This interesting, affecting novel will definitely find an audience.

School Library Journal

The book is a very enjoyable read that anyone who has ever felt like an outsider who doesn't fit in; in other words, everyone will be able to relate to an aspect of Ortega and will view the worldand the people and animals in it with increased compassion.

CM Magazine

Librarian Reviews


This is a heartwarming tale of a talking gorilla named Ortega who has been raised in a laboratory. As an infant gorilla, Ortega underwent several surgeries designed to make speech possible. These surgeries included having his tongue and palate reshaped and the addition of an artificial voice box. Ortega was then exposed to spoken language by his speech therapists and various handlers.

The novel begins with Ortega attending a new school and experiencing life in the human world. Ortega is befriended by Peter, an enthusiastic scientist in the making, and Janice, a no-nonsense type of girl who stands up for what she believes is right. The majority of the children at his new school, however, see Ortega as a freak of nature and judge him harshly before getting to know him. Ortega soon realizes that if he is to live in the human world he will need to change the way society thinks of him.

Maureen Fergus’ third novel, Ortega, is a funny and compelling story that encourages the reader to examine their own beliefs about science, equality and difference. Ortega will certainly make you laugh as you experience life through the eyes of a talking gorilla. I would recommend this novel to any reader who enjoys humour, animals and most importantly a story that make you reflect upon yourself and the world around you. Ortega is one gorilla that you will never forget.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2010. Vol.33 No.2.


Ortega was a baby gorilla when he was taken from his mother by scientists who taught him to talk, read and write. Now they want to send him to school, but Ortega is scared. What if the other kids think he’s a freak? When the unthinkable happens, Ortega is worried he’ll lose everything he’s come to know.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2011.

Other titles by Maureen Fergus

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