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National Geographic Kids Chapters: Ape Escapes!: and More True Stories of Animals Behaving Badly (NGK Chapters) Paperback – July 24, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

July 1965, Omaha, Nebraska
 
A young orangutan peers out of his cage at the Henry Doorly Zoo. No humans are in sight. The coast is clear.
 
He sticks his long fingers through the chain-link fence. He bends back one corner. He pulls. ZZIIIIP! The stiff metal fencing unravels like a hand-knit scarf.
 
Some time later, veterinarian Lee Simmons arrives at work. He rounds a bend in the path and yikes! Dr. Simmons stops in his tracks. It couldn’t be, but it is. A shaggy, red-haired ape sits up in a tree. How did he get loose?
 
The ape is about six years old, tailless, and weighs 100 pounds (45 kg). He has a mustache and beard like a famous movie character. For that reason he is called Fu Manchu. Fu’s arms are super strong and longer than most fourth graders are tall. In a wrestling match against a man, the orangutan would win.
 
The ape doesn’t move or make a sound. But Dr. Simmons sees a twinkle in his eyes. The vet can’t help but wonder if Fu knew what he was doing. It’s like he’s been sitting there just waiting for me.
 
Fu climbs down. The sun sparkles on his red hair as he scrambles back to his cage. Dr. Simmons follows, shaking his head. What a crazy ape! He locks Fu inside.
 
He calls someone to fix the fence and then goes about his normal business. And Fu goes about his—dreaming up more hijinks to come.
 
Fu was born in a rain forest on the Indonesian island of Sumatra (sounds like sue-mah-tra). Like most baby orangutans, Fu probably never knew his father. Orangutan mothers care for their helpless babies. Fu’s mother nursed him. She held him and snuggled him. Every night she built them a nest high in the treetops.
 
These sleeping nests were the size of bathtubs. Fu’s mother made them by twisting leafy branches together. Each fresh, new nest must have felt as comfy to Fu as clean bedsheets do to you.
 
Usually Fu and his mom stayed dry in their cozy bed in the sky. At other times thunder boomed. Rain fell in sheets. Then the apes huddled together and turned giant leaves into umbrellas.
 
During the day, Fu often rode on his mother’s back. He clutched her hair as they swung through the trees looking for durian (sounds like dur-ee-ann) fruits. Durian fruits stink like sweaty gym socks. But orangutans go ape for the smelly stuff.
 
The problem is durian fruits don’t all ripen at the same time, and the trees are scattered. To find them, orangutans must keep a map of the forest inside their heads. For Fu’s mother it must have been like memorizing a school bus route with hundreds of stops.
 
Finding water was easier. It collects in hollow tree trunks after a rain. Fu might have gotten a drink by scooping water out with a folded leaf. Or maybe he chewed leaves into a sort of sponge. Then he sopped up water and dripped it into his mouth. Either way, Fu used leaves as tools.
 
Long ago, Indonesian people dubbed these clever apes “orangutans.” In their language the word orang means “person” and utan means “forest.” Together you get “person of the forest.”
 
One day Fu and his mother heard strange sounds in the swamp. Hunters had entered the jungle. They carried axes and homemade nets on their backs. Rivers of sweat ran down the men’s bare chests. Armies of insects buzzed in their faces. But nothing stopped them. The men were animal collectors. They feed their families by catching and selling wild animals. A baby orangutan will get them a lot of money.
 
Did Fu’s mother know they wanted her baby? Probably not, but she sensed danger. She swung from limb to limb, snapping off branches. She threw the branches down on the hunters.
 
The animal collectors looked up. The mother ape looked like a tiny black doll hanging against the blue sky. Was she holding a baby?
 
The hunters had a traditional way of catching orangutans. They didn’t try to climb up after them. Not at first. That might have spooked the ape into escaping through the treetops. Instead, the animal collectors formed a circle. They pulled out their axes and hacked away at tree trunks.
 
The ground shook as a tall tree crashed to the forest floor. Then a second one, and a third. The trees were so close together that each one that fell knocked down another. CHOP! CHOP! The men worked their way to the last tree—the one holding the apes.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 7 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 2 - 5
  • Series: NGK Chapters
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: National Geographic Children's Books (July 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1426309368
  • ISBN-13: 978-1426309366
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aline Alexander Newman has been writing for National Geographic Kids magazine (formerly NG World) since 1998. More than 50 of her stories have appeared on the cover. Her first National Geographic Children's book, Ape Escapes, came out in 2012. Since then, she has written two more Nat Geo chapter books: "Animal Superstars" and "Lucky Leopards." Her young adult book, called "How to Speak Dog," and co-authored with veterinarian Gary Weitzman, is popular with both kids and adults. And a similar guide to understanding cats, called "How to Speak Cat," is scheduled for release, in February 2015.

Writing for children comes naturally to Aline, since she is a certified teacher with an MS in Education from Syracuse University. But she doesn't only write for kids. Her work also appears in Guideposts, an inspirational magazine for adults.

Aline is a wife, mother, grandmother, and animal lover. She and her husband, Neil, divide their time between an old farmhouse in northern New York and a seasonal camp in the Adirondacks. Long-time pet owners, they recently adopted an abandoned dog they found running scared on a country road. His name is Moose.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jessi on September 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good book, it is a nonfiction book with a touch of drama. There are 3 funny stories in this book. One is about an monkey who trades his food for a piece of metal to pick the lock, and he escapes more than five times, never leaving the zoo, and the zookeepers are puzzled how he does it. The next one is about a dog that loves to eat and one day while he's trying to get a cake he sets the house on fire. The last one is about a cat burglar.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hope Irvin Marston on August 15, 2012
Format: Paperback
The author of these engaging stories of an orangutan scamp, a mischievous pup, and a cat burglar has been writing for National Geographic for Kids for more than a decade. Her works have been translated into twenty-two languages. The compelling true escapades in this her first children's book inform and entertain in a child-friendly way. The size of the book, the captivating photographs from cover to cover and the engaging conversational text will keep chapter book readers turning pages. Comparisons that help children understand size - "Arms longer than most fourth graders" and "sleeping nests the size of bathtubs" - paint word pictures and occasional up-close, full-page color photographs engage the reader. "Did you know?" thumbnails with facts that tickle a kid's fancy complement the solid scientific writing. This is a "must read" for young animal lovers, but readers of any age will chuckle at the antics of these three rascals.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Terri P on August 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
This book was lively, interesting and the fact that it was true was even more amazing. The kids in my family really enjoyed it. Acutally, I did too.
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By Amazon Customer on July 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Very good book!I loved the cat theaf!!

Awesome job to the writers!Kids will love this book:)!!
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Format: Kindle Edition
I loved the cool things that the animals did.They were interesting and you learn about things. I loved it and recommend it for everyone.
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By Garrett on April 22, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked this book because I love animals
I bet my sister would like it too because she likes animals
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By Lisa M. McCormick on March 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It has more than one story,and all the story's are great. It is amazing that animals can do things for us. If you like animals you WILL like this book
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Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this book!!! I thought it was so funny how the little Ape keeps on escaping his cage and gave food to the Ape on a diet. I did think it was also a tiny bit scary because I thought the hunters would kill the mama Ape. I also thought that it was kinda hard to find out how the Ape got the wire myself! l thought that it was funny how the Peggy keeps on taking the family's stuff like the close pins but it was a little scary how Peggy nearly dies in the fire. I thought it was kinda funny how the little cat kept on bringing the neighbor's stuff. I also thought that it was good because it also included some of the next book telling me about the next book and how it kinda moves around. l love this book and I'm really excited about getting the next book and I might think about telling my teacher.
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National Geographic Kids Chapters: Ape Escapes!: and More True Stories of Animals Behaving Badly (NGK Chapters)
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