The Power of One Writer
Back Yards, Ethiopia and Children's Books

Orangutans and sun bears and kids, oh my


This sun bear is Lady, and she’s getting a shot at life.

I’m reeling with the joy of a repeat author visit to Pasir Ridge International School in Palikpapan, Indonesia, the place where kids and faculty inspired me to create Dakota, Lanie’s best friend who is getting to live out Lanie’s dream and work with orangutans.  Leonard got to return to the BOS orantugan project and report on Lady and the orangutans and the tree he planted last time.

Kids everywhere I spoke in 2010 know that orangutans need trees…and that humans are cutting down those trees with scary speed.  This particular effort to provide trees grew out of a small response–at the school–to an orangutan or two that needed refuge.  It was thrilldom to spend three jet-lagged days with talented young writers from all over the world (and their talented teachers) reading, writing, signing books, and hearing about this year’s student trip to the Samboja Lestari project.

Mubasshir created a page to give me after our first session together.  “I would like to help animals,” he wrote.  He listed four of his favorites…”but I can’t help these.”  A seal?  Too far.  A snake?  Too scary.  A lion?  Too strong.  A penguin?  Too far.  He is inspired to catch krill, an important part of the food web, and ended, “Even poor people can help animals.”


We talked together so much about what Lanie discovers…maybe if you live in Boston, you can’t go far away to help orangutans.  Maybe you’ll discover the power to help the insects and birds and other small animals in your own back yard.  As everywhere I go, we also talked about the power to share books and reading…in our own houses and all around the world.

“I never knew about Ethiopia,” one little girl told me.  “Next time, I’m going to ask my parents if we can go there.”

Kids from every continent…young world travelers…looking around them with such curiosity and intensity and hope.

2 thoughts on “Orangutans and sun bears and kids, oh my”

    • I’m sure you’re right. Since the Lanie books came out, I’ve met a lot of kids who are working passionately to see if they can reverse the orangutans’ overall fate.


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