"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Friday, April 06, 2007

Evangeline Mudd and the Golden Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle



Evangeline Mudd and The Golden Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle
Author: David Elliott
Illustrator: Andrea Wesson
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN-10: 0763618764
ISBN-13: 978-0763618766

Recommended for grades 2-4

When I was growing up, one of my favorite characters was Pippi Longstocking. I read all of Astrid Lindgren’s wonderful books over and over and over again. The things I loved so much about Pippi was that she was different, strong and forged her own path all the while being kind, good and caring.

Thank God for Pippi because she taught me to forge my own path, to turn away from what should have been my life and create something that I wanted rather than what I felt I should be stuck with. Evangeline Mudd is just such a character. She’s strong, she’s different, she forges her own path while being a kind and caring soul.

Evangline Mudd’s parents are primotologists (people who study apes and monkeys). They specialize in the Golden Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle. They also have a homey little cottage with a lovely garden back in England. They decide to raise their future child as much like the apes they study as possible. Once decided, Evangline is born right there in the garden. She grows up eating peanut butter sandwiches with her feet, swinging from chandeliers and taking a bath just every so often. She does have some non-ape type training, like learning the piano, wearing diapers and going to school.

Evangline and her parents have the ideal life and a lot of love till the day Dr. Aphrodite Pikkaflee needs the doctors Mudd to go back into the Ikkinasti Jungle on an emergency. Evangline is sent to stay with her father's "second cousin, twice removed" and his wife who was once a prima ballerina. They turn out to be horrible people and Evangeline is miserable and longing for the day her beloved parents will return.

When months go by and they do not, she fears the worst and sets off with the famous Dr. Pikkaflee into the Ikkinasti Jungle to find her parents. They meet up with Dadoo the headhunter, last of his kind who joins them in their quest. They battle an evil villain who just so happens to be Dr. Pikkaflee’s brother and various dangers of the jungle.

Evangeline Mudd and the Golden Haired Apes of the Ikkinasti Jungle is a fun and adventurous romp of a book. There’s a strong message about the ecology and saving nature and animals. Evangeline is a character to love. She’s bright and beautiful, clever and strong. Her independence and determination as well as her kindness make her a wonderful role model for any child.

The illustrations are wonderful and remind me of the Pippi books as does the story where the drawings just capture the heart and soul of the characters and environment.

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