by Georja Umano

Umano tells her gentle and funny debut from the point of view of two spunky terriers, Romeo and Roxie. Widowed naturalist and writer Kate moves from Santa Monica to Nairobi, Kenya, with her father, Horace, and her two little dogs on a grand adventure to help save the African elephants. Taking turns narrating, Romeo, an injured rescue who finds it difficult to trust people, and Roxie, his energetic and cheerful girlfriend, describe their long plane ride to Africa and their new home where they confront chattering monkeys, scare away toothy crocodiles, and finally meet the majestic and humongous elephants. The dogs help Kate wrangle baby elephants, play with the girls at the home for unwed young mothers where Kate works, and marvel at how an elephant saves their lives. The new location and activities build Romeo’s confidence, changing him from a hopeless lame shelter dog into a brave partner in Kate’s noble endeavors. “Fate brings us together, and our bonds will never be broken!” declares Romeo. Young and old readers alike will take a fancy to Umano’s heartwarming travelogue filled with childlike whimsy and playful illustrations.

Reviewed By Pikasho Deka for Readers’ Favorite

Terriers in the Jungle by Georja Umano is an animal adventure story narrated through the eyes of two terriers. Roxie and Romeo are two spirited terriers living fulfilling lives after being adopted by Kate, a passionate animal activist. A couple of years back, Kate’s husband Gerard, a wildlife photographer, lost his life in an unfortunate plane crash in Congo. Since then, Roxie and Romeo have been her constant support and family. When the trio leaves their cozy home in California to make a trip to the jungles of Kenya, Roxie and Romeo have no idea what they are in for. But after being introduced to playful elephants, aggressive baboons, and nefarious poachers, they discover that the world is bigger than they previously thought. Along the way, Romeo helps local authorities catch two notorious poachers. 

Filled with wit, charm, and humor, Terriers in the Jungle is a must-read for any animal lover. Georja Umano’s adventure tale showcases the ways pets or animals in general help people cope with the rigors of life while providing unconditional love and company. The narrative focuses on two terriers from the busy streets of L.A. who unexpectedly find themselves amongst exotic wild animals in the jungles of Africa. Through Romeo and Roxie, the reader sees the ways animals interpret human behavior and their environment. Umano perfectly captures the essence of how animals deal with trauma and the loss of their loved ones. Terriers in the Jungle is a fun-filled adventure novel that can be surprisingly poignant at times. I enjoyed it immensely and highly recommend it.

Review by Jack Neworth

Long time Santa Monica resident Georja Umano has published her first novel, “Terriers in the Jungle,” which has already won three prestigious awards. It’s based on her real-life affection for elephants and how this passion has taken her to Kenya six times in her advocating for conservation and protection of these remarkable animals. 

In addition to educating readers about Africa’s dwindling elephant population, estimated 100,000 in 2011 and 40,000 today, “Terriers in the Jungle” is just great fun. Roxie and Romeo, the two canine narrators are filled with irrepressible and child-like wonder. In their many adventures exploring Kenya, often they’d inadvertently get into dangerous scrapes but manage to escape. Georja also is adept in weaving the dog’s adventures and the importance of wildlife conservation, promoting a world where elephants can thrive.  She’s also an artful literary tour guide of Kenya. 

“Terriers in the Jungle,” takes us on a sensational and inspiring journey into the world of endangered animals and presents a heartfelt dog’s-eye-view of the beauty and brutality of East Africa. (Plus I think it’d make a great movie!)

“Terriers in the Jungle” – A Charming Read

by Barbara Keer

Georja Umano’s recently published book, “Terriers in the Jungle,” her first novel, has been wildly well received, winning three prizes: First Place Winner in Animal Fiction: The BookFest 2022  and the Pinnacle Award 2022: Best Book in Animals & Pets (Natl. Assoc. of Book Entrepreneurs), and a Silver Medal, IPPY from the Independent Producers Association, very prestigious, indeed.  This is a charming story that has sprinklings of unique drawings throughout.  Getting to know Roxie and Romeo was a great adventure.

“Terriers in the Jungle” tells the story of Kate, a dedicated animal conservationist who moves her family to Kenya from L.A. to do what she can to save endangered elephants.  Kate’s two rescue dogs, Roxie and Romie tell the story of their journey and their stay.  The reader learns from the terriers about the contrast of life in L.A. and life in Africa including people, places and other animals. Looking at the world through the terrier’s perspective is a meaningful and unusual experience.

Reedsy Discovery  review by Raju Chako

A thoroughly enjoyable novel centered on animals and wildlife in which dogs and elephants steal the limelight!

The story has the wildlife and outdoors of Africa at its heart, with elephants stealing the limelight. Kate, Romeo’s owner, and ‘Mom,’ is a passionate wildlife conservationist based in California. She travels to Africa on a two-year trip along with her father to study more about African wildlife. Romeo and his girlfriend Roxie accompany them. The story mainly narrates significant happenings of that trip as seen through the eyes of Romeo and Roxie.

“Without a doubt, the story is superb. It’s amazingly absorbing! What I liked most is that it reminds us to treat the animals (and non-human life) that co-habit the earth with us with love, understanding, and respect, particularly doing our bit to seriously tackle and stamp down cruelty against them. Thoughts flow smoothly and the writing is so clear that I found it hard to put the book down when I had to take breaks. The book is practically error-free, and the interspersed humor and occasional narratives of dangerous events add to its appeal. Forests form a green and spooky background and every time a forest-related narrative shifts course, your heart begins to beat fast: In your mind, you ask, “Is there something scary coming up around the corner?” Putting it all together, this is one excellent book, very interesting, and well-worth reading!’

A pair of rambunctious terrier mixes star in this conservation-minded debut by Umano. Romeo and Roxie, two dogs adopted from the pound by their owner, Kate, are enjoying a perfect life near the Pacific Ocean when Kate decides to pack up the family and head to Kenya–where she can finally help conservationists in their efforts to save African elephants from poaching. Romeo and Roxie are up for the adventure, as long as they get to stay with Kate, whom Romeo fondly describes as the first person to teach him “how to be part of a family and to be loved.” But the trip turns out to be more than everyone bargained for, as both the dogs and Kate are forced to draw on their inner resilience to survive. 

Animal lovers will immediately fall in love with Romeo and Roxie and their curiosity-driven hijinks in Africa. When baboons move into their home area, the dogs waver between fear and sympathy after locals tell them the only safe way to get rid of the troop is to kill their leader–and Roxie’s run-in with a mother baboon protecting her baby is as much comical as it is sweet. Romeo, who never falls short on bravery, is also an intuitive cross-species communicator: after the trio meets their first elephant, and Kate astutely says “All the animals and people are connected,” Romeo leads canines and pachyderm in howling song.

Umano strikes a nice balance between action and feel-good moments throughout the story, and even the heartbreaking sections circle back to her overarching theme of connectedness. Multiple illustrators have contributed black and white renderings of the story’s animals and happenings, bringing different African species, as well as Romeo and Roxie, to life. Readers with a soft spot for wildlife will appreciate the list of conservationist organizations Umano includes at the end.

Takeaway: Two terriers take on the wilds of Africa in this spirited tale of conservation and animal protection.

From the concrete jungle of Los Angeles to the lush jungles of Africa, Roxie and Romeo lead us on their journey alongside their animal-loving mother, Kate, to save the elephants. Oh, did I mention Roxie and Romeo are dogs?

Terriers in the Jungle (Atmosphere Press) by Georja Umano tells the story of two very eloquent canines, Roxie and Romeo, in what reads like a personal diary of their adventures. Their tale starts with their struggles to survive as strays on the unforgiving streets of L.A. Fortunately, they find a comfortable and loving home and learn how to be companion animals. But that’s just the start of their adventures.

Soon they will follow their mom, Kate, across the world to lend a helping hand in the conservation of elephants. Life in Kenya certainly differs from life back in California. These spunky pups will need to learn to navigate this new territory filled with unique wildlife and even more dangerous people.

Just as there are many differences between people, the same can be said for our four-legged friends: Roxie and Romeo. These pups are so different in temperament, but they complement each other so well. Roxie is the perfect example of small but mighty with a healthy dose of sass, while Romeo is more reserved, shy and introverted.

“… the adventure never stops. There wasn’t a moment to rest in the story, which kept me engaged throughout. The author even inserts some poetry here and there. Some of this is written by the dogs themselves. I thought that was a cute touch. The descriptions themselves were poetic in nature as well. On page 46, when discussing an elephant, the author writes, “But his spirit is like a gentle and sweet song of a small bird.”

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