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Saving Sorya

Authored by Trang Nguyen
Illustrated by Jeet Zdung
Published by Macmillan

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Saving Sorya: This vibrant graphic novel will transport you directly to the forests of Vietnam, where you will meet Chang and Sorya. Chang is a young, caring conservationist who has defied the odds of achieving her dream of working to rescue bears into the wild; Sorya is a bear cub. The two develop a deep bond which is truly tested when Chang realises the time is right to release Sorya back into the wild.

This is the true story of Trang Nguyen – one of the BBC’s 100 Women of 2019. As a child, Trang stumbled across a hidden part of the forest near her home where poachers were extracting bile from young bears. Outraged, Trang vowed to devote her life protecting wildlife (and particularly bears) from being maltreated. Not only is bile extraction depicted, but how humans are having adverse effects on the environment – deforestation, dam building and capturing animals for commercial purposes – are also amongst the issues shown in the book. The Empathy Lab have included Saving Sorya in their collection for 2023 and I could not think of a better place for it: readers will learn so much about the plight of sun bears in Southeast Asia and also the work of important conservationists in this field. They will take away vital messages of sustainability whilst feeling the almost-tangible pain when Chang must leave Sorya to live independently in her new home. In this book, we see the horrors that some humans can unleash upon innocent animals, but we also see the compassion, protection and connection offered by many others.

Trang Nguyen and Jeet Zdung make a dynamic author and illustrator pairing. Trang’s story is interspersed with information making it almost a non-fiction text which will appeal to a broad audience. Brought to life so vividly by illustrator Jeet Zdung, the story will certainly be one that stays with you. His style fuses traditional Vietnamese artwork with manga to create a modern and eye-catching read. I would highly recommend this unique text for Upper KS2 or KS3 both as a class study or for independent reading.

Empathy Collection 2023

This collection is available from our bookselling partner Best Books for Schools