Reviews

“Terriers in the Jungle” – A Charming Read

Walking dogs on Diani Beach with friend Jackie and Amigo

 

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.

 

Two Spunky Rescue Pups Venture Into the Jungles of Africa to Help Save Elephants

 

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.

 

LOVABLE MIX-MATCHED FAMILY’S IMMERSIVE ADVENTURE

 

 

As you read along their journey, you can’t help but feel the protective nature, love and admiration that they both share for their mix-matched family. I consider it a pleasure to have read along as they maneuver through each unfamiliar experience of moving to a different continent. Especially their multiple run-ins with a mischievous clan of baboons. But never fear; Roxie is always there to take care of business.

An element of this book that I wasn’t expecting was the illustrations. Every picture adds a whimsical feature that ties everything together so well. The illustrations immerse you in the story, making you feel like you’re living their adventures alongside them, whether it’s a walk on the beach with your new dog friends, seeing an elephant for the first time, or outsmarting the band of poachers.

Terriers in the Jungle is the perfect novel for every animal lover. It checks all the boxes: dogs, monkeys, elephants. What more could you ask for? The story of Roxie and Romeo is a bittersweet one, filled with adventure that calls to the readers’ sense of humanity, leaving you with a responsibility to help make the world a better place than how you found it. Two dogs in love leave their home to go on an African adventure to save the elephants; this lighthearted story is just screaming to be a Disney movie.

Terriers in the Jungle is available for purchase here.

 

 

 

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.

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.

Morrie Ruvinsky, Author/Producer, Dream Keeper, Myth Quest

Two very privileged and literate Jack Russells from Santa Monica go to Africa. What could possibly go wrong? Told by the dogs themselves, Romeo and Roxie spin a fanciful tale with a surprising bittersweet resolution. Can’t wait to see what happens when Disney gets their hands on it.

 

Cynthia Moss, Director, Amboseli Trust for Elephants,Keynya

Georja Umano’s book Terriers in the Jungle is delightful. Elephants and dogs—two of my favorite things. Who wouldn’t enjoy these charming tales told from the point of view of Romeo, the Jack Russell, rat terrier, chihuahua mix of mischief.

 

Nikki Sharp,  Executive Director, Wildlife SOSUSA:

Terriers in the Jungle is a novel that all animal lovers should add to their library. The story combines an African adventure with a message of conservation and humanity, all told through the lighthearted perspective of two rescued dogs.  If you haven’t already started on your journey to protecting elephants, you will once you’ve completed the book.

Jane Gillis, Retired Special Collections Librarian, Beinecke Library, Yale University

 Africa from the observations and experience of two terrific dogs. Roxie and Romeo are so different (just as people are so different) and their personalities come across superbly. What we also experience is the care and love they have for each other. Especially interesting is how the two domesticated dogs interact with the wild animals, and dogs, of Kenya.  And, just as these two dogs are so different, so are the different parts of Kenya. The illustrations are lovely and whimsical.  I loved the book.

 

Gabriel Dinda, Founder and Executive Director, Writers Guild Kenya

 What a story! Speaks to the heart on all that matters. The author has managed to capture my attention from the beginning to the end. It is only when I finished reading that I realized I had learnt so much from the story. Brilliant.

 

Barbara Lovett, Founder and Director, Save Nosey Now

 I laughed and cried and did a lot of smiling throughout the book. I love dogs, so hearing the story from their point of view was fun and endearing, The story was heartening and positive in that the work Kate was doing was so in tune with my beliefs and desires for the elephants.

Judy Carman, Author, Peace to All Beings: Veggie Soup for the Chicken’s Soul

 Terriers in the Jungle is a wonderful revolutionary book that both entertains and raises important animal issues. It will help readers feel compassion and understanding for many animals.

 

Ricarda Franco, Co-Founder, Dexter Foundation

I just finished reading the book and it was wonderful. So touching and uplifting all at once. It made me happy and I cried a good bit too.

Loved it! 😍.   By Raju Chacko, Reedsy Discovery

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

Synopsis

Spunky dogs Roxie and Romeo ponder, philosophize, and crack jokes as they express underlying feelings of loneliness, fear, and love. We watch them transform from unwanted street canines to beloved companions and pets. The two adore each other, their home, and their mom Kate. But Kate, being an ardent animal conservationist, decides the family will move to Kenya to help save endangered elephants. The dogs must now learn to survive in the midst of wildlife, dangerous people, and circumstances far from most American dogs’ understanding. We experience their journey as told in their own words as they adapt and grow into intrepid adventurers.

Inspired by real events.

 

“I’m a small dog, and I used to live in a gutter.” This endearing first line by Romeo, one narrator, captures your heart right at the beginning of Terriers in the Jungle: A Novel by Georja Umano. He was lame due to injury at one point, but even after recovering, had a limp all his life. My heart went out to him because he personifies the homeless and helpless who are still grateful for life’s blessings. He personifies the rare few in life who are content in their circumstances. Who wouldn’t be touched by such a humble creature whose life teaches us what we humans need to do to live happily?

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!

That said, I’d like to add a note of caution for hardcore wildlife conservationists: please remember that this is a novel that merely has a conservationist at its center. Consequently, whatever details regarding wildlife you find in it are purely incidental, but not primary. So don’t expect in-depth details about wildlife, like how seriously committed to wildlife conservation the African Gov is, critical shortcomings in conservation activities/plans, and so on.

The right audience for this book is lovers of nature, animals, and wildlife all across the globe. Those employed in forestry, forest care, wildlife conservation, animal care/welfare, and animal rights will also enjoy it. It’ll be a pleasure to read for casual readers. It’ll also be a splendid book for English-educated children everywhere, as children, by very nature, are die-hard fans and lovers of animals, forests, and wildlife.