A Mom for Umande by Maria Faulconer, illustrated by Susan Kathleen Hartung
Based on a true story, this picture book tells of how a baby gorilla found a mother of his own. When Umande was born, his mother didn’t know how to care for him. So the keepers of the zoo had to step in and help, taking care of his infant needs and later showing him to to play and eat as a young gorilla. After he was 8 months old, the zoo moved Umande to a different zoo across the country where Lulu, an experienced gorilla mother was waiting for him. They were slowly introduced to one another, but soon enough they were a pair. Umande had found his mother!
This story of a baby gorilla makes a wonderful picture book. Faulconer uses just enough detail about the zoo staff and the efforts they took to raise baby Umande to make it fascinating. She keeps the pace brisk and the story moving forward, making it just the right length for young readers to enjoy. The text also reads aloud well, and this would be a nice addition to story times about mothers.
Hartung’s art captures the charm of gorillas on the page. Even though Umande’s real mother didn’t know how to care for him, the art is carefully done to show that the gorillas are more baffled than mean or careless. The cautious approach of the new mother gorilla and Umande as they are introduced is portrayed in a touching way on the page as is the final connection of the two gorillas.
This book is sure to speak to adoptive families as well as fans of gorillas and zoos. It is a great pick for story times on any of these subjects. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Dial.