Macmillan Children's Books has picked up the rights to two non-fiction graphic novels by Vietnamese wildlife conservationist, activist, and writer Trang Nguyen and by Jeet Zdung, who fuses traditional Vietnamese art with manga styles. Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is out in September 2021 and is based on the true story of how Nguyen became a conservationist after witnessing a moon bear being tortured. Chang succeeds, against the odds, in releasing the bear into the wild. The second book, Saving H'non: Chang and the Elephants, will be released in 2022. Again based on real events, this will follow an older Chang as she saves an elephant forced to work in the logging and tourism industries for 50 years.
Russell McLean, the publisher at Kingfisher, bought world rights excluding Vietnam, and in all languages excluding Vietnamese, from Kim Dong Publishing Macmillan already sold rights in the US at auction to PRH Dial, while rights have also sold to South Korea, China, Norway, and Turkey. Nguyen will donate all her royalties from the graphic nature books to conservation organisation Free The Bears and her own charity WildAct Vietnam.
Nguyen said: "Everyone likes bears: Paddington, Teddy, Winnie the Pooh… We love our cuddly soft-toy bears, but we are pushing the real bears to extinction in silence. This book tells a story of a young girl in a tiny town in Vietnam, with a huge dream of becoming a wildlife conservationist and her quest to bring Sorya – a female sun bear – back to the forest. This story is inspired by real efforts to save bears in Asia told in an appropriate way for young children. I hope it inspires others to take action!"
McLean commented: "I am thrilled to have acquired these books by Trang Nguyen and Jeet Zdung. They promise to be Born Free for a new generation, and I know that children of all ages will feel empowered by Nguyen's life. The books are heart-tugging animal stories with real facts and a truly inspiring and determined lead character. With breath-taking art and STEM facts galore, Chang's daring story is for any young reader, animal lover, and intrepid explorer who's ready for adventure."