Wegelius, Jakob. The Murderer’s Ape. Trans. by Peter Graves. Delacorte, 2017. $17.99. 588p. ISBN 978-1-101-93175-2. Ages 11-14. P8Q9
Talented mechanic on a cargo ship, Sally Jones, who plays chess and understands language, is also the gorilla who narrates this complex tale on a 1908 Underwood No. 5 typewriter after her sailor friend, Chief Henry Koskela, is hauled off to prison for killing a man, Alphonse Morro, on the docks. It is up to Sally to prove Chief’s innocence. A refuge at the home of Ana Molina, an abused woman, allows her to learn the skill of repairing accordions from the doubting owner of a shop below Molina’s apartment. The discovery that the supposedly murdered man is actually alive sends her on another years-long adventure to locate Morro.
Verdict: The excitement pacing from the plot’s pacing, the well-executed characterization, and the charming black and white illustrations by the author make this book the well-deserved winner of Sweden’s August Prize for best novel for youth. In addition, Wegelius successfully portrays the warmth and love that Sally has for her friends as her devoted loyalty saves them from disaster. A must read.
March 2017 review by Nel Ward.