A Family for Faru
A Family for Faru
The sound of cracking twigs wakes them. They peek around the tree.
Faru hides his face in the tree’s roots.
“We are brothers now,” Tetenya says. “I will keep you safe.”
In the warm, vast savannah where the air smells of lemongrass, a young boy named Tetenya befriends an orphaned baby rhinoceros. Tetenya enjoys the extra company of this young and lost animal, Faru. He comforts Faru and tries his best to fulfill the rhino’s basic needs while both the boy and his mother search the wild for a loving new rhino family that Faru could be welcomed into. After passing, dashing, and weaving around all sorts of animal species, mother and son have no luck finding any rhinos. Eventually, Faru even calls out himself for a family by raising his head and squealing – but, still no luck.
During their search mission, Tetenya and Faru encounter a pair of hunters. Faru hides while Tetenya promises to keep him safe and bravely speaks to the two armed men. The men comment on their disappointment in Faru’s pink horn and walk away. (Note: The reason for this pink horn, dyed by a conservationist, is explained in the front sleeve of the book. As many children – and adults – don’t always read this front matter, this factual information might have been better located with the other end matter.)
Following this fearsome encounter, there is hope and joy when Tetenya and Faru come upon a crash of rhinos drinking water from a watering hole and are greeted by a friendly, waving ranger. A sense of relief is felt by all when Tetenya and Faru realize that they have successfully found Faru a welcoming new family. As Tetenya heads towards home, there are mixed emotions with sadness as he parts ways with Faru. “Go on,” Tetenya urges. “I’ll see you again soon.”
An excellent feature of A Family for Faru is that it ends with age-appropriate factual information about rhinos that is worded in comprehendible, child-friendly language. There are brief descriptions about the history and appeal of rhinos, including why they have become an endangered species and where they can be found in the world. To add a personal touch at the end of this educational story, Anitha Rao-Robinson includes more about a family experience which inspired her passion for rhinos, and, in turn, inspired A Family for Faru. Both the story plot and end note are written in a way which is likely to be understood by a young audience and which encourages empathy towards animals. A brief explanation of protective groups provides insight into some of the challenges faced, as well as how these traumatized animals are cared for, protected, and how their health is ensured prior to their being introducing to new families. Activist terms, such as "ranger", "protected reserve" and "rhino sanctuary", are likely to expand the vocabulary and knowledge of young readers.
Smooth and distinctive images by award-winning illustrator Karen Patkau transport readers to the savannah setting. The occasional use of bold, black outlines to divide scenes within a single page creates the illusion of a photograph-like portrait. The sky, water, and earth tones blend beautifully to perfectly depict the African and Asian savannah settings. Patkau’s full-page landscape illustrations reflect her own travels in the region.
Beautifully written and illustrated, A Family for Faru is a most worthwhile addition to library collections.
Andrea Boyd is an early years’ teacher in Winnipeg, Manitoba. She is currently pursuing her Master of Education degree at the University of Manitoba, specializing in Language and Literacy.