Author Chat With Michelle Kadarusman (Berani), Plus Giveaway! ~US/CAN ONLY

Today we are chatting with Michelle Kadarusman, author of Berani!

Read on for more about her, the book, and a giveaway!




Meet Michelle Kadarusman:

Michelle Kadarusman grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and also lived many years throughout her father’s homeland of Indonesia before moving to Canada in 2000. Her books have earned numerous nominations, including the Governor General’s Literary Awards, the Ontario Library Association Silver Birch Awards, and the

Green Earth Book Award. Her novels include The Theory of Hummingbirds, Girl of the Southern Sea, and Music for Tigers. Her first picture book, Room for More, published in 2022. Michelle now lives in Toronto, Canada and Byron Bay, Australia.

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About the Book: Berani

Malia has had a privileged upbringing in Indonesia, but since her Indonesian father died, her Canadian mother wants to return to her own family on the other side of the world. Malia is determined to stay. Indonesia is her home, and she loves it. Besides, if she leaves, how can she continue to fight for her country’s precious rainforests? Ari knows he is lucky to be going to school and competing on the chess team, even if it means an endless round of chores at his uncle’s restaurant. Back in his home village, he and his cousin Suni dreamed about getting a chance like this. But now he is here without her, and the guilt is

crushing him. As if that weren’t enough, he’s horribly worried about Ginger Juice, his uncle’s orangutan. The too-small cage where she lives is clearly hurting her body and her mind, but where else can she go? The rainforest where she was born is a palm oil plantation now. In Berani, Governor General’s Award finalist Michelle Kadarusman spins together three perspectives: Malia, who is prepared to risk anything for her activism, Ari, who knows the right path but fears what it will cost, and Ginger Juice, the caged orangutan who still remembers the forest and her mother. The choices the young people make will have consequences for themselves, for Ginger Juice, and for others, if they are brave enough–or reckless enough–to choose.

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~Author Chat~


YABC:  What gave you the inspiration to write this book? 

Berani was inspired by an experience I had when I was living in Surabaya, Indonesia, many years ago. My brother was also living in Indonesia at the time and traveling to remote areas of East Java for his work. He called me one day, distressed, to tell me he had been to a small restaurant in the village of Malang where he saw an orangutan in a cage. We managed to find an organization who liberated her and just like in the story, the cage had to be cut open to release her because she had outgrown the opening. The experience stayed with me all these years and then recently I read about some brave young activists in the region. Bringing the two elements together brought the story to life.


YABC:   Which was the most difficult or emotional scene to narrate?  

By far the most emotionally difficult passages to write were the scenes where Ginger Juice loses her rainforest home, her mother, and of her captivity. My research pointed to the incredibly strong bond shared between mother and baby orangutans, also that we are so similar in DNA that an orangutan kept in long term captivity would display the same kind of mental, physical and emotion deterioration that you would find in humans. This is a disturbing fact considering our habit of keeping apes in captivity and something I wanted to try and communicate by having Ginger Juice’s voice heard from her cage. As difficult as those chapters were to write, I hope the passages will allow readers to build empathy for her plight.


YABC:    What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book? 

To all the young activists, I hope to impart the simple fact that you can make a difference.


YABC:     Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart? 

I’m very grateful for the many organizations who work towards protecting orangutans and other endangered species. The work of Leif Cocks, the founder of The Orangutan Project (TOP) was extremely helpful in my research. TOP works tirelessly on initiatives to help save the species. Their work focuses on these areas:

Rescue, Rehabilitation, Release

Securing and Protecting Natural Habitat

Educating and Supporting Local Communities

Changing the Game by Standing Up and Speaking Out


YABC:   What advice do you have for new writers?   

My top three pieces of advice are:

Don’t give up! That is the main thing to remember. I spent a decade writing and getting rejections before I was finally published. For many of us, honing the craft takes a long time, so be willing to dig in

Listen to trusted sources when it comes to critiques, but stay true to your own voice

Read, read, read! Read widely, this is how you develop good taste as a writer

YABC:  Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now? 

If I could give advice to myself as a newly published author, I’d tell her not to rush. Take the time you need to get it right.


YABC:   What’s up next for you? 

In fall 2023, with Pajama Press, I will release a collection of short stories for middle-grade readers. Each story has an environmental theme and is set on an island, both real and imagined.

YABC:   Is there anything that you would like to add? 

In Berani I also wanted to explore having a character who comes from different cultures. Like Malia, I have an Indonesian parent and a parent from a western culture. In middle grade years especially, I think we can struggle with self-identity. For those of us with parents from different backgrounds it can be more confusing because we perhaps feel the need to have an alliance with one culture over the other. There are no right or wrong answers of course, it’s a very personal journey. But I was interested to introduce the theme with Malia’s character and to show some of her inner struggles and ultimately her willingness to explore her personal cultural identity.



Title: Berani

Author: Michelle Kadarusman

Release Date: August 16, 2022

Publisher: Pajama Press

ISBN-10: 1772782602

ISBN-13: 9781772782608

Genre: Middle Grade Fiction

Age Range: 8-12





Five (5) winners will receive a copy of Berani (Michelle Kadarusman) ~US/CAN ONLY


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6 thoughts on “Author Chat With Michelle Kadarusman (Berani), Plus Giveaway! ~US/CAN ONLY”

  1. ldittmer says:

    This would work very well with a research project we have in our middle school.

  2. kimzoby says:

    The cover art is incredible. Looks like a great story for the grandkids

  3. This is a pretty cover and sounds like a really heartfelt story!

  4. Cori says:

    I love learning about animals!

  5. I love this cover and can’t wait to read this book.

  6. ltecler says:

    This looks like a great story for animal lovers and activists.

Comments are closed.