Saturday 28 January 2023


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The Ape Star by Frida Nilsson   {Reviewed by STELLA}
Would you like a gorilla to adopt you? Would you like to live in a junkyard in the middle of an abandoned industrial area? And how does a hammock slung up behind a wall suit you for a new bedroom? If you answered yes to all three questions maybe you would like to change places with Jonna.
There are 51 children at the orphanage and the inspector is due. He’ll be counting heads and there better be 50 of them. (The inspector, Tord Fjordmark, is also on the local Council and he’s  keen to get his hands on the junkyard for a money-making venture (more on this later!) and Gorilla is holding them up.) The manager, Gerd, is in a flap. The drive is raked, the sheets are spotless, the gardens perfect and the floor shiny, but she’s one too many. Just as she’s berating Jonna, again, for her dirty hands, a solution arrives in the nick of time. Luckily a car (if you could call it that) speeds in. Unluckily it undoes the meticulous gravel work. Luckily the driver wishes to adopt. Unluckily for Jonna, she’s Gorilla’s choice. Everyone is gobsmacked, and poor Jonna, despite her desire to leave Renfanan and her belief that no one would ever choose her, wishes she wasn’t now rushing headlong down the road in a vehicle pieced together out of scrap, driven outrageously by a Gorilla in baggy pants and big boots. She has the uncomfortable feeling that she might be eaten. (Warning: don’t always believe your  fellow orphans.)
In fact, the only dinner on the table when they get home is fried egg sandwiches and they are pretty good. Gorilla is odd though, and Jonna makes a move as soon as she can to run away. It fails, and then she’s under Gorilla’s watchful eye and has to work out in the yard. After a few weeks, Jonna starts to like the scrap yard, the customers that come by for a bargain, and grows accustomed to Gorilla’s ways, although going to town isn’t high on Jonna’s list — it's embarrassing! She’s not surprised that Gorilla attracts stares and dismay. How could she not? There’s a silver lining though — the second-hand bookshop. Gorilla loves her books, and Jonna will learn to enjoy them too. Jonna’s getting into the groove of Gorilla’s lifestyle and coming up with ideas to make the scrap yards more profitable - some of them not exactly honest. As she gets to know Gorilla, she realises that this is the best kind of family one can have: inventive, imaginative, and caring. Yet life isn’t fair. Tord wants his land and will play dirty to get it. How will Gorilla keep the land and keep Jonna too? And are there better dreams to come if you can find the Ape Star? Read this and you might just find out. 

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