My thanks to author Stephen Tako and BookTasters for a review copy of this book.
Junga the Dancing Yeti Meets Heidi is the second of a series of picture books for young children (4–7) that touches upon topics like difference and bullying, and conveys important messages about the right way of doing things in the everyday effectively through simple and colourful stories.
Junga we learnt in the previous book earnt his name because he found the winter in the frozen mountains, where he lived with his parents too cold, and started ‘dancing’ to keep himself warm. In that book, Grandma had decided to bring him to another mountain with cooler temperatures, where they had an adventure but found new friends and a cave to live in for the winter. This story opens in that cave where Junga and Grandma are living quite happily, but Junga misses having friends since the animals he had met there have either gone downhill for the winter or are hibernating. While attempting to make friends with deer (who run away from him), he meets a little red-headed human girl Heidi. At first both are scared of each other, but as soon as they begin to talk, they become friends telling each other about their families. When out playing with Heidi, the two run into Bigfoot, a ‘young green and brown furry boy’ who bullies and upsets them. But suddenly on the scene appear two hunters in search of Bigfoot and his family. Heidi then explains to Junga that the Bigfoot, whose name is Groth, used not to be so bad till the hunters arrived on the mountain. Junga wants immediately to help. The rest of the story is how the two new friends help Groth, and rid the mountain of the hunters. Needless to say, Junga’s dancing plays a part.
This was, like the first book, a fun little story, and a nice way for the author to communicate the various messages he wants to, such as teaching children that difference is not necessarily a thing to be scared of; that one must always be ready to help those in need; when children should turn to parents or older family members for help or permission to do things; practical tips from when one is out in the woods, if hunters are around and such. This is done within the story and in a way that it comes in the flow of things, by observing the characters and their actions, rather than in a preachy way which I liked. We also have a helpful list of these messages as tips at the end as in the previous book. In the format that I had this time, it was a little harder to read these (I mean the font) unlike the previous book where it was fine.
Other than Junga and Grandma, we have a different set of characters than the first book, but once again different from each other which leads to fear (Junga and Heidi) or bullying (Groth); but Junga and Heidi find that getting to know each other solves the problem for them, and as for Groth, his bullying has started for a reason, and Junga and Heidi doing the right thing changes his ways. They three also learn the importance of working with each other and their parents and Grandma to address the problem that is threatening the mountain’s safety—the hunters, who aren’t allowed on the mountain.
Other than the aspects that the story is seeking to convey to the kids, the story itself is also good fun, and I rather enjoyed how all the characters worked together and got rid of the hunters.
Once again, we have some colourful artwork which was nice; the characters’ appearance also puts across their personalities—the hunters are as ugly on the inside as on the outside; Groth, when in bully mode isn’t the most appealing, but once Junga and Heidi offer to help, the change in his expression conveys the change in him inside. (I was sad not to have any bears in ballerina costumes though 😊) Once again, like in the first book, I’d have preferred lighter page-background colours.
Once again, a good read with an interesting story putting across relevant messages for kids!
My review of the the first book