Heart of Danger
Eliot Schrefer
Book cover
UK Price: £6.99
Format: Paperback
Age: 10+
Size: 198x129mm
Extent: 320pp
ISBN: 978-1-908435-61-3
Publication date: April 2013
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Listen to an audio extract.

When Sophie rescues Otto, a baby bonobo clinging to life, her world changes for ever.

Until then, she had never understood her mother’s decision to create an animal sanctuary in one of the most dangerous place on earth: the African Congo.

But one night, while her mother’s away, rebel soldiers attack. To save herself and Otto, Sophie must follow her heart into danger.

Published as Endangered in the US.

 Video interview by kind permission Scholastic Inc. USA.

A letter from Eliot Schrefer...

"The more I learn about bonobos, the more I fall in love with their species. It doesn’t hurt that they’re so darn adorable. They’re also so shy that science didn’t know much about them until recently – as a result we thought chimpanzees were our nearest relatives. But bonobos are as closely related to us, if not even more so. They have such frequent physical interaction that their family groups are incredibly close-knit and protective – and the females are in charge! The first time I saw a group of three young female bonobos stand down a much larger male who got out of line, I understood the real source of bonobo pacifism. When females have such strong bonding, their society has a caring police force, and all bonobos benefit. Especially the infants.

Bonobos also, of course, live only in the most war-torn country on Earth. Congo is home to the world’s deadliest conflict since WWII, and the fighting is still raging in the bonobos’ home region. The central irony of the bonobos’ situation – and what led me to write Heart of Danger – is that bonobos represent an alternative, peaceful model for our origins, proving that apes (like us!) aren’t pre-destined to warfare and killing…

I hope that what will pull readers into Heart of Danger is the appeal of seeing a young woman care for a young orphan bonobo, and then the drama of watching them make their way across a country at war as Sophie tries to reach her mother. There’s a lot of risk and a lot of danger, a true-to-life dystopia story. But there’s also a lot to learn about within the book – it’s an exploration of what bonobos are, and what that means for us as their relatives. It’s also an exploration of Congo’s recent history and a portrait of a very resilient people. Primarily, though, Heart of Danger is the story of Sophie and little Otto, and the determination of a young woman to give a voice to a creature with a heart as broad as a human’s but with no voice of his own."                       

Eliot Schrefer


"would’ve made my eyes huge with wonder and shock as a fourteen year old … "
Maggie Stiefvater, Shiver
Finalist in the National Book Award (Young People's Literature category), in the USA

Concrete can rot. It turns green and black before crumbling away. Maybe only people from Congo know that. There was a time when I didn’t notice

“I fell in love with bonobos, those peace-loving apes that can tell us so much about the better sides of our nature. But they live only in a country torn by war, and that conflict is what brought me to write Heart of Danger."

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