a review by Nalini Haynes
Colt Lawless and Birdy Flynn were introduced in The Last Elephant, the Lost World Circus book one, and now continue their adventures in book two, The Singing Ape.
Caruso is the singing ape: the last male gibbon in the world, he lives in the Lost World Circus after the rat flu, a human creation, has wiped out most of the world’s animals. Caruso escapes from his cage for nightly visits to a nearby tree until he catches a cold, bringing down the might of DoRFE and Officer Kat who is holding a grudge.
The Singing Ape flows on well from the Last Elephant; for my initial impressions of this series, read my review. It seems this series has a formula: animal of the week (so to speak) comes under DoRFE scrutiny and has to be saved (outcomes vary). The story arc is slowly building: Colt shared the secret of the origin of the rat flu with the circus kids then the story spread to the media. There was only a fleeting mention of the blue car with the green door in this novel, so the ‘person behind the scenes’ still hasn’t been revealed.
Although my attention span for long adult series is limited (Evie Kendal articulates some reasons why here), I think this series will be able to keep young readers’ attention for some time. The Lost World Circus series novels are short and action-packed with fulfilled gratification in each instalment coupled with the delayed gratification of the unfolding story arc about the rat flu and the stranger in the blue car. Colt and Birdy are likeable, relatable characters with aspirational abilities. Colt’s superpowers provide added scope for humour.
Highly recommended for primary school readers.