Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear by Trang Nguyen & Jeet Zdung

My word! I love this graphic novel and although the themes are very different, I am reminded of When Stars Are Scattered. Whenever creators opt to tell important stories related to the real world in graphic novel form, I’m instantly drawn to them. With Saving Sorya, the quality is such that everyone should be.

This is a story of love, kindness and hope. Chang witnesses a bear farm as a young child and this sets her off on a journey to become a conservationist. At this point in the story, never giving up is the main message. Thankfully Chang doesn’t, so we get to watch her grow as a person. But this isn’t only Chang’s tale, as Sorya is the real star.

Sorya is a sun bear. Small, young, vulnerable – Sorya isn’t prepared for life in the wild, so Chang must help her adjust. The time they spend together is heartfelt. Chang adores the little bear and does everything she can to aid this timid character to grow into an independent citizen of the rainforest who can protect themselves and hunt for food.

The skills of Jeet Zdung must be applauded as each page is vibrant and beautiful. Any work by this illustrator will be quickly snaffled up in the future, and I advise everyone to do likewise.


Another aspect I admire is how there is a mix of non-fiction weaved into the illustrations. As Chang is a keen observational drawer, you get to learn about the different species of bear as well as other cool facts.

Now for the teacher bit. The focus on conservation means that a class of Ks2 children would be better global citizens just by reading this wonderful story. It provides various examples of how humans impact on forests, and explains how returning to the wild isn’t a simple process for captive animals. The fact that all this is wrapped up in a beautiful story makes it ideal to use to inform children about such an important matter.

An absolute delight – a must read!

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