Inspired by true events, Remy Lai’s heartfelt new graphic novel series, Surviving the Wild, is going to be a huge hit with animal lovers, especially young eco-warriors, conservationists and environmental activists.
Star loves spending time with the herd but when their food supply runs out it is time for the family to split up and go their own ways. The search for food is hard going and swimming across wild waters is tiring. Separated from his mum and aunt, life only gets harder for little Star. Lost and alone in a big and dangerous world and with humans everywhere he looks, he knows he must keep running. But how long can one elephant run for until he runs into trouble…
Rainbow’s mum has taught him all he needs to know to survive in the wild and the time has now come for Rainbow to go and find his own place to call home. But Rainbow is scared! There are dangers on the ground, finding the right tree is tricky, kookaburra keeps making fun of him and a pesky bird takes his fur for a nest. There are bigger threats too. The sun has scorched the ground, the water has dried up and Rainbow must face his greatest test. Surviving a bushfire…
Raw, honest and emotionally-charged, these tales of animals in danger are drama-filled and exciting. Both stories feature a delightful cast of animal characters and Rainbow and Star are two shining beacons, who readers will take to their hearts, as hope, courage and bravery triumphs over adversity. With parental separation, scarcity of food and water, and survival all explored, these are not for very sensitive little souls. Although happy endings and family reunions ultimately prevail, there is plenty of peril, danger and near-misses along the way.
Beautifully illustrated and very enjoyable to read, both stories do a superb job of highlighting some of the challenges that the world’s wildlife faces. The particular focus here is on climate change and wildfires, and deforestation and the threat posed by people. The sad truth is that not all animals have the happy endings experienced by Star and Rainbow. As humans we have a lot to answer for, placing animals in danger through no fault of their own is unfair and unjust.
While these are targeted for young readers, Lai does not shy away from the harsh realities that animals face. Dramatic scenes of bushfires destroying Rainbow’s habitat and the aftermath, of elephants submitting to tranquilliser darts (this did have a happy outcome) and of Star’s desperate swim across the ocean are especially sobering and will surely leave readers wanting to help.
The back matter content is as good as the stories and it is where readers will find the tips and tools that they need to empower them so that they can make a difference. Further information on elephants and koalas, the true events that inspired the stories, and simple and accessible ideas on what can be done to help are all included across several fabulous pages.
More must be done to protect our wild animals and to ensure they can live long and happy lives in their natural habitats. Stories like this are essential to have on the bookshelves to educate and encourage younger generations. In the words of Remy Lai’s animals, ‘Together, we can protect the Earth!’
With huge thanks to Allen & Unwin for the copies I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 6+.