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Two Illustrated Books by Vietnamese Conservationist to Have Global Release

They tell the story of a Vietnamese woman working to rescue a bear and an elephant.

The Bookseller reports that the global publishing rights for two non-fiction children's books by Trang Nguyễn, the founder of WildAct and an award-winning conservationist, have been bought by Macmillan Children’s Books.  

This gives the publisher rights to all countries except for Vietnam, and all languages except Vietnamese, in an agreement with Kim Dong Publishing House. Trang's books will be illustrated by Jeet Zdung, a Vietnamese artist who fuses traditional Vietnamese art and manga, and book rights have already been sold on in the United States, South Korea, China, Norway and Turkey.

The first book, Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear, has already been published in Vietnam and will be published in English this September. According to the book news site, it tells the story of how Trang decided to become a conservationist after seeing a moon bear getting tortured.

Pages from Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear. Illustrations by Jeet Zdung.

Saving H'non: Chang and the Elephants, meanwhile, will be published in 2022 and follows an older version of the character Chang, this time rescuing an elephant that has been forced to work for logging and tourism companies for half a century.

Trang told Saigoneer via WhatsApp that she hopes "readers, not just children, can learn more about our nature, and that, especially in a developing country like Vietnam, wildlife conservation is a real, legitimate career that is not a 'white man's job.'"

She added: "Human activities are pushing bears into extinction, not only from the horrible and cruel bear bile farming/consuming practice, but forest destruction and overpopulation too. I hope it inspires others to take action."

Trang also hopes that the decision to make Chang a young girl shows parents that they should encourage their daughters to pursue their own dreams. "Girls can be scientists, geologists, astronauts...they can be awesome if you empower them," she said.

The books are especially impactful given that they are based on real life.

According to Trang, Sorya was a tiny sun bear that was rescued by Free the Bear Fund when she was only eight weeks old. "Her mom probably was killed when they kidnapped her, or sent to a bear bile farm somewhere," she explained.

"The elephant story that we are making is based on a true story of H'non, a 60-year-old elephant who was kidnapped when she tiny, abused into carrying heavy items at construction sites, and then when she was old and weak, they forced her to carry tourists on her back. Her limbs and back were broken. I want to help these animals to tell their stories, for humans to listen, to understand, appreciate how unique and fascinating they are, and to help them."

In 2019, Trang was named among the BBC's 100 Women of 2019, and made the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list last year.

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