Reviewed by Dianne Bates
This is a book in the Sparklers’ series which aim to educate and entertain readers aged 6 to 9 years. Little Brother certainly does this and does it well. Set in Malaysia, it tells the story of a small Sabahian boy, Latif, who goes on an adventure with his pet Little Brother to find a home for the orang-utan in a rehabilitation centre in Sepilok.
As it progresses, the fast-paced story takes Latif (and the reader) from the boy’s family longhouse, where Little Brother and other orang-utans have wrecked a plantation nursery, to Kota Kinabalu. There Latif and Little Brother are photographed by tourists who give the boy ringgits so he can afford to catch a bus to Sepilok. On the bus Latif meets an Australian girl Kendra who aims to sponsor an orang-utan at the rehabilitation centre.
The book employs coloured illustrations -- both drawings and photographs -- on every double-page spread so young readers can see aspects of Malaysia from banana plantations to markets to cityscapes. To further inform and educate the reader, there are pages at the end of the book which contain a map (and flag) of Malaysia, facts about the country and a glossary. There is also a story analysis (orientation, complication, resolution) and a short comprehension.
Other books in this series set in south-east Asia and written by Australian Bernard include Goat Girl and Garden Boy, Emilio and the Volcano, and The Talking Hands Guesthouse.