Perched on a branch in a tree at the top of Chimp Hill, the highest point on the island, Scallion studied the night sky. In times past, the moon, the stars, all of the bright objects set in the darkness above, would have held no meaning for him or for his fellow chimpanzees. With good reason their curiosity was focused on the earth and upon the rain forest in which they lived, how it fed them and nurtured them. This had been true since the beginning of time, since the first chimpanzee found a home here. Only the arrival of the girl and her parents had changed that, changed everything, in fact.
Scallion didn’t feel the wind breathing through his brown fur, didn’t feel its soft tickling. Sometimes the moon shone a brilliant red or even purple, colors reflecting off the water of the Mamba River, which flowed around Chimp Hill and created his island home. On those nights the young chimpanzee reflected upon days buried deeply but firmly in his memory when he and the human female played tag and leaped through the trees, wraaing and hooting and pretending they were of the same kind.
Scallion’s lips curled back to expose his teeth in a wide grin. Excited panting and hooting filled his ears as his family prodded him to tell them everything he remembered.
He waited for a hush. Oh, how he wished the girl were with him now. How do you really tell about a girl? How do you explain her importance? How even in the most frightful of moments she could speak in a way that took away all fears. Scallion had tried to do these things many times before without her. But the world was changing. Humans had invaded their land, and the two-legged father they had relied on all their lives was missing.
Scallion tried to cheer and comfort Pan and Cream, Black Bart and Scopes, but he longed for the old days and for the girl with the black hair and the eyes dark as the night. Their sister. Their teacher. The girl the chimpanzees called Talk Talk.
Chiku Flynn wasn’t raised to be human. Born in the Congolese rainforest, she spends her first eleven years as part of an experiment. For her, the aboriginal—the primitive—is ‘normal.’
Just after her eleventh birthday, Chiku witnesses the horrifying death of her mother, and her father sends her ‘home’ to the United States, to a normal teenager’s life. But she can’t adapt. She is the proverbial wild child—obstinate and defiant.
When her father disappears, sixteen-year-old Chiku heads back to the primordial jungle, where she uncovers her own dark past and puts to use her greatest skill: she can communicate via sign language with the wild chimpanzees of Chimp Island.
But there is turmoil in the rainforest—civil war, environmental upheaval…and murder. The lives of the chimps and the safety of the people she loves depend upon one teenaged girl who refuses to be messed with—Chiku Flynn.
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About the Author
Peter Clenott is a graduate of Bowdoin College and hails from Portland, Maine. He is the author of the archaeological adventure Hunting the King and currently has three children and lives in Haverhill.