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written by Maureen Fergus

Kids Can Press, 2010

978-1-55453-474-6 (hc) $18.95

for Grades 4 to 7


Fiction | Animal-Human Interaction

This is a heartwarming tale of a talking gorilla named Ortega who has been raised in a laboratory. As an infant gorilla, Ortega underwent several surgeries designed to make speech possible. These surgeries included having his tongue and palate reshaped and the addition of an artificial voice box. Ortega was then exposed to spoken language by his speech therapists and various handlers.

The novel begins with Ortega attending a new school and experiencing life in the human world. Ortega is befriended by Peter, an enthusiastic scientist in the making, and Janice, a no-nonsense type of girl who stands up for what she believes is right. The majority of the children at his new school, however, see Ortega as a freak of nature and judge him harshly before getting to know him. Ortega soon realizes that if he is to live in the human world he will need to change the way society thinks of him.

Maureen Fergus' third novel, Ortega, is a funny and compelling story that encourages the reader to examine their own beliefs about science, equality and difference. Ortega will certainly make you laugh as you experience life through the eyes of a talking gorilla. would recommend this novel to any reader who enjoys humour, animals and most importantly a story that make you reflect upon yourself and the world around you. Ortega is one gorilla that you will never forget.

Trevor J. Froates is a Toronto teacher-librarian.

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Author:Froates, Trevor J.
Publication:Canadian Children's Book News
Article Type:Book review
Date:Mar 22, 2010
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