The Book That Made Me: Philip Reeve 16/10/19
The Legend of Sally Jones
Publisher: Pushkin Press
One stormy night, a baby gorilla is born in the African rainforest: the gorilla elders prophesy that because no moon or stars are visible, the gorilla will meet with many misfortunes in her life.
Sadly, the prophecy seems to come true. Sally is kidnapped by hunters and sold on until the kind Frau Schultz buys Sally and raises her in her villa in Istanbul, teaching Sally how to solve puzzles, including unlocking safe boxes. One day, Frau Schultz asks Sally to burgle an apartment and steal some rare jewels, but Sally is the one that takes the blame.
A heartbreaking journey from zoo to travelling circus eventually brings Sally to Chief Koskela. Under Koskela’s tutelage, Sally learns her way around a boat’s engine room. And, though she gets her opportunity to return to the jungle, Sally finds that she has been away too long, and her place is now with the Chief.
Jakob Wegelius’ graphic novel prequel to the novel The Murderer’s Ape tells the gorilla Sally Jones’ sad origin story with great compassion. The full-colour artwork has all of the magic and strangeness of the original novel, but also reminds us of the terrible ways humans have treated gorillas and orangutans.