November 08, 2022

Berani: Guest review

 This book was reviewed by Grade 9 student Bronte.

Written by Michelle Kadarusman
Pajama Press
224 pp.
Ages 8-13
August 2022

Malia is a courageous girl who stands up for what she believes in, but activism can be a risky business. When she gets into some trouble with her school for circulating a petition against palm-oil, a product that many families in her town rely on for their income, she has to make a difficult decision that could result in lots of trouble for many people. Meanwhile she is trying to convince her Canadian-born mother not to move the family from Indonesia where Malia has lived all her life, and where her late father is buried.

Ari spends his days attending school, playing chess, and doing chores around his uncle’s restaurant in exchange for a chance to live with him, and get an education at the local public school. But the guilt of leaving behind his dear cousin, Suni, and the rest of his family has been gnawing on him. Furthermore, Ginger Juice, his uncle’s pet orangutan, has been suffering from her poor living conditions, and he’s worried her days are numbered. 
Berani alternates between the points of view of Ari and Malia as they help others and try to solve problems around their communities, as well as that of Ginger Juice, who longs for home. It is an inspiring story ideal for grades 4-6, written by Michelle Kadarusman, award-winning author of books such as Music for Tigers and The Theory of Hummingbirds. As someone who cares for the environment, I think Berani is a fantastic way to introduce some of our world’s problems to kids. This book touches on so many important issues: animal rights, climate change, preserving the environment, the loss of family members, and the struggles of moving. The main characters Ari, Malia, and of course Ginger Juice are brave, kind, and thoughtful. The book’s colourful descriptions and Indonesian words sprinkled throughout (a glossary is provided) really set the scene, and the way the chapters flip between the kids' and orangutan's perspectives is a nice touch as well. It’s a great way to start conversations about our world, and our responsibilities as inhabitants of it. (Michelle Kadarusman includes a section with information on orangutans and how we can help them.) Berani, which I would rate 9 out of 10 stars, is definitely worth a read!

~ Written by Bronte, Gr. 9

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