Kayu of Manis Valley

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What is it?

A 69-page children’s storybook suitable for those aged 10-12.

Who is it by?

By multi-award winning author, Heidi Shamsuddin. Illustrated by Lim Lay Koon and published by MPH Group Publishing.

What is it about?

The book tells the story of a young crocodile named Kayu. He was found by Amir, a boy often bullied by a group of kids. Amir shares his problems and feelings with his new friend. Kayu’s presence fills the void of loneliness in Amir’s life and gives him the strength he needs. However, a turn of events takes Kayu away from him.

Kayu ends up in Manis Valley on Langkawi Island where the young crocodile is adopted by a family of spectacled leaf monkeys. In the jungle, Kayu observes the Sacred Law of the Jungle and learns how to live with the other animals. He is the only crocodile in Manis Valley and there is much he needs to learn about the new environment.

As time passes, part of the rainforest is transformed into an eco-holiday resort, where an environmentally-friendly hotel and facilities are built. The naturally curious and resourceful Kayu observes the holidaymakers and their habits.

One day, while watching the resort patrons, he overhears an evil plan to kidnap a rich man’s daughter. Kayu then finds himself in a dilemma. Should he obey the Sacred Law and not interfere in the affairs of humans, or break the Law and save the life of a little girl?

What can children learn from it?

They will learn about standing up to oneself, bravery, compassion, second chances, the importance of family, being honest and that it pays to be resourceful in handling different situations.

What did I like about it?

The book touches on current issues faced by children including bullying and the feeling of neglect by family members. It also talks about stereotyping, compassion, forgiveness, acknowledging mistakes, being helpful and brave, and thinking outside the box. All of which is very relevant and would be helpful to young readeres.

Apart from that, Heidi uses simple, easy to understand sentences which makes the book an enjoyable read for readers.

What didn’t I like about it?

I feel the author could have been more careful with her choice of words when dealing with a young audience. Words like “hell” when talking about bullies making Amir’s life difficult, and “useless” when the rich man refers to his wife – were they necessary? Perhaps different words could have been used so as not to negatively influence junior readers.

Where to get it?

Kayu of Manis Valley can be found at most major bookstores including MPH and its online platform, MPH Online.

Should you get it?

Apart from the two words I feel are inappropriate, Kayu of Manis Valley is an easy read and suitable for younger children, particularly those who love animal stories.