Gorilla Dawn – Gill Lewis

Gorilla Dawn

The thrilling, heartbreaking, and inspirational new story from award-winning storyteller Gill Lewis.
Deep in the heart of the African jungle, a baby gorilla is captured by a group of rebel soldiers. Imara and Bobo are two children also imprisoned in the rebels’ camp. When they learn that the gorilla is destined to be sold into captivity, they swear to return it to the wild before it’s too late. But the consequences of getting caught are too terrible to think about. Will the bond between the gorilla and the children give them the courage they need to escape?

Other books by the author

Sky Hawk

Moon Bear

White Dolphin

Scarlet Ibis



Author Website


Interview with the author


If you liked this, try…

Operation Rhino by Lauren St John

The Forever Whale by Sarah Lean

Girl with a White Dog by Anne Booth

The Last Wild by Piers Torday

The Child’s Elephant by Rachel Campbell-Johnson


18 thoughts on “Gorilla Dawn – Gill Lewis

  1. This book is vibrant and bursting with colour and life. I really like the way Gill Lewis makes the reader feel they are in Africa. I think this is an incredibly good story with remarkable characters and I really enjoyed it.

  2. After reading this book, I want a pet gorilla toooo!
    The descriptions in this book are so life-like and real, I could imagine myself out there in the jungle. The characters woke in me very strong emotions – some that I liked and some that I really didn’t! I think this is all down to Gill Lewis’s skill at bringing her characters to life. My favourite character was Bobo. I admired his loyalty and courage. I especially liked the background information at the end which was fascinating and made me want to get involved too. Even if you don’t like reading about animals, this is a book you really shouldn’t miss!

  3. This book really made you feel how the characters felt and had a very different outcome to what I expected.

    This book is set in the Congo where Imara is the black mamba’s spirit child. It is said that to look into her eyes is to see your death. She survived the bite of a black mamba, this usually has fatal consequences, and this proved to black mamba, the leader of the mamba rebel tribe, that she is the devil’s child and converses with the sprits.
    Bobo is a ranger’s son; he, like his father, loves gorillas, so when he encounters Imara looking after a baby gorilla called Kitwana, he feels it is his duty to protect the animal from the rest of the Mamba tribe. Only Bobo sees that Imara is good at heart despite having the reputation of the devil itself.
    This novel is not the sort of genre that I would usually choose because I am not a huge fan of Michael Morpurgo or Lauren St John and they are listed in the blurb, but I am extremely glad that I persisted with this book because I grew to love it as the novel went on. The bond between Imara and Kitwana was so strong, it made you love the baby gorilla as much as she does. This book also addresses real issues facing gorillas and people of the Congo such as mining in terrible conditions for valuable materials that are in constant demand for electronic devices. It shows just how these problems affect everyone involved in one way or another.


    Gorilla Dawn is quite a good book. It didn’t really appeal to me but I am sure other readers found it very interesting. It took me a while to get into this book and I found it hard to feel sympathetic towards the characters.

    This was touching, but unfortunately it was not my type of book as I like mystery, adventure or upbeat kinds of stories, not the kind that make me sad.

  4. Gorilla Dawn was an eye opening book that made me question what most of what I owned was actually made of. I found this book very different from what I normally read but I am very glad I have read it. Though this book had a slow beginning, once the pace picked up I started to really enjoy it. I also liked how everything was tied up very well at the end. Just leaving the story where Imara found her parents wouldn’t have been a justifiable ending. My one criticism was that I would have liked to have found out what happened to Dikembe as I felt he just disappeared from the story.
    This book is very well written and I felt as if I was in the jungle with Imara.

  5. I liked Gorilla Dawn from the start because the setting was so interesting. I like Bobo because he knew a lot and I liked Imara for her independence and close bond with the baby gorilla. I thought the plot was very interesting but also quite challenging. I would like to read another book by Gill Lewis.

  6. This book was full of drama, adventure and excitement. The way that Gill Lewis described everything really helped me imagine the vibrant colours of the jungle, the dusty towns and the adorable gorillas! The characters were portrayed vividly and I felt very wary of Rat’s sneakiness throughout the book. The ending confused me at first because I thought it was in real time. Once I understood, I liked this bit best of all because I got the complete background and everything fell into place.

  7. In my opinion, this story had a unique plot and interesting characters. Not only did it have elements of action, but because the story was related through the eyes of several different and interesting people, the reader could see things from different perspectives – even those of a baby gorilla!
    This book isn’t just about issues in Africa – illegal mining, rainforest destruction, corruption etc. It’s really about the mental and physical journey of a young girl to survive and the reader follows her every step of the way. I think it was the death of Emmanuel that brought her back to reality and made her realise how desperately she and others needed to escape and how badly The Black Mamba needed to be stopped.
    I thought this book was beautiful, eye-opening and a really good read.

  8. Gorilla Dawn is a truly amazing book and I really enjoyed it. I felt a bond with all the main characters, especially Imara. It was though I was there with them on their rollercoaster journey and I could experience everything they could see and feel and smell.

  9. An incredible book, bursting with vibrant colours and descriptions that whisk you away to Africa! The plot gripped me and wouldn’t let me put the book down. I was, however, quite disappointed that Saka, one of my favourite characters, almost disappears from the story when Bobo arrives.
    Gorilla Dawn really made me think about what is actually going on in Africa and I really enjoyed it!

  10. This is an extraordinary and emotional book which kept me hooked all the way though. There were many sad parts but they just made me want to read more! I liked the way that the baby gorilla’s dependency on Imara helps her keep control of herself and not give in to her demon.
    At the end I couldn’t help smiling as Imara’s life was turning around. I absolutely loved this book.

  11. This book took me on an emotional journey and I really enjoyed it. The plot was great and the description of life in the rebel camp was vivid and frightening. I liked the way the story was written from three perspectives, those of Imara, Bobo and Kitwana. This allowed their loyalties and different personalities to come through really well.
    Overall, I thought this book was fantastic.

  12. This is a fascinating book full of twists and turns. I particularly like the way the author told it from different characters’ points of view, even through the eyes of a baby gorilla! The story was emotionally challenging and even shocking at times because the author doesn’t shrink from describing violence and the deaths of people we’ve come to care about. This does make it very realistic.
    As Saka and Dikembe were introduced in some detail, I was surprised and disappointed that they didn’t feature later in the story. It would have rounded things off nicely if they’d been included at the end.

  13. I thought that this was an interesting and well-structured book and the way it was written from different perspectives. I didn’t like it very much at first but then I fell in love with the baby gorilla, felt sorry for Bobo and Frog and got annoyed with Imara for listening to her ‘demon’ and letting it take control of her! The plot had drawn me in. I loved the ending which gives Imara the mental and physical peace she needs.

  14. In real life, if I knew someone who had formed an alliance with the devil, I think I would steer well clear from them! However, in reading this book, I felt strangely drawn to Imara and infuriated when she kept listening to her demon when it told her to push away the people who wanted to help her. Perhaps this is why I felt a real bond with Saka, Bobo and Frog who also cared for her. Gill Lewis has created some memorable characters that you can’t help being affected by. The descriptions made everything seem so real, the characters leapt off the page.
    Overall, I thought this was a fascinating fast-paced novel and I didn’t want it to come to an end!

  15. This beautifully described adventure story transports us to the Democratic Republic of Congo in the heart of the African jungle. Gill Lewis creates many fascinating and complex characters, good and evil, and you really feel you are there. The children in the story are all kidnapped at different times by a rebel group called The Black Mambas. Imara is brought up as their ‘spirit child’ but they are all in danger. At the end of the story, everything links together and all the loose ends tie up in an unexpected but satisfying way.
    I’ve enjoyed all Gill Lewis’s books. If you don’t read this one, you’re missing something amazing!

  16. This story captured my imagination as it unravelled. I liked the way Gill Lewis created Imara who grows up to believe that she has the devil inside her and can protect the rebels from evil spirits. Life in the jungle is bleak if you don’t know how to get food so the rebels raid the villages they pass, kidnapping more children. In parallel, we follow Bobo’s story. Bobo’s father is a forest ranger and has to protect the gorillas but he goes missing when the rebels appear. I liked the way that the Chief of Police fits the gap between Bobo’s story and Imara’s story in a rather shocking way. The way each character’s very different story slots together perfectly in the end is very clever and satisfying.

  17. This book is probably one of the best I have read this year because it is so interesting and imaginative. The prospect, which was often heart-breaking, kept changing all the time. My favourite character was Imara because she’s a girl and because she tries to do her own thing and not give in to Rat and The Black Mamba. I think the demon is another part of her mind – a negative part that has been triggered by the Mamba and by the scars that Rat has given her.
    I would recommend this book to confident readers because the vocabulary is challenging and the plot quite complicated.

  18. This story made me feel quite emotional. The descriptions were excellent and the characters were vivid and believable.

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