Two comic books titled Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear and Saving H’non: Chang and the Elephants by author Trang Nguyen have been purchased by British Publishing House Pan Macmillan.

The cover of the book Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear. Photo: WildAct 

The value of the purchase was not disclosed, but according to Kim Dong Publisher, “it is a breaking record of Vietnamese publishing industry’ that ‘is many times higher than normal copyright sales”.

Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is an inspirational graphic novel adventure, based on a true story about a young conservationist who overcomes the odds to save a sun bear.

When twelve-year-old intrepid explorer Chang learned about bear poaching in the rainforest near her home in Vietnam, she decided to do whatever she could to become a wildlife conservationist. After training herself in wilderness survival skills, documenting her adventures in her field notebook, and disproving all the critics who thought she wasn’t old enough, strong enough, or fluent enough in English (often and troublingly considered to be the “language of science”) Chang was finally accepted as a rescue center volunteer.

But her toughest challenge comes when she’s tasked with returning Sorya – the sun bear she raised from infancy- to the wild where she belongs. Because despite being a different species, Sorya is Chang’s best friend. And letting a friend go is never easy, even when it’s the right thing to do.

The author of the book – Vietnamese wildlife conservationist Trang Nguyen. Photo: WildAct

The two children’s comics are written in English by Trang Nguyen and illustrated by Jeet Zdung. The illustrative paintings are a blend of graphic design and Japanese manga art.

Trang Nguyen is a Vietnamese wildlife conservationist, environmental activist, and writer, known for tackling the illegal wildlife trade in Africa and Asia. She graduated with her Ph.D. in Biodiversity Management at the University of Kent, England.

In 2018, Trang was featured in the documentary film Stroop: Journey into the Rhino Horn War alongside Jane Goodall. She was selected for BBC’s 100 Women of 2019 list and for the 2020 Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list.

Jeet Zdung, the illustrator of the Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is a Hanoi-based painter. He fuses traditional Vietnamese art with manga, using pencils, watercolors, ink, and other digital means to create works of beauty and innovation.

Saving the Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is the first children’s comic written by Trang Nguyen and it is going to be published in September 2021, while her second one: Saving H’non: Chang and the Elephants will be released in 2022.

“Everyone like bears: Paddington, Teddy, Winnie, and Pooh. We love our cuddly soft-toy bears but the real bears are on the brink of extinction. My story is inspired by real efforts to save bears in Asia told in an appreciative way for young children. I hope it inspires others to take action,” Trang told The Hanoi Times.

Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear is promising to be a beloved comic by young readers and animal lovers. Photo: 

According to the Pan Macmillan Publisher, the books are heart-tugging animal stories with real facts and truly inspiring and determined lead characters.

“With breath-taking art and STEM facto galore, Chang’s daring story is for any young reader, animal lover, and intrepid explorer who’s ready for adventure,” the publisher said.

The Pan Macmillan Publisher also announced that the copyright of the book Saving Sorya: Chang and the Sun Bear has already been sold to other publishers in the US, South Korea, China, Norway, and Turkey.

Trang Nguyen told The Hanoi Times that she will donate all her royalties to the Free The Bears conservation organization and WildAct Vietnam organization.

Trang is the founder and executive director of WildAct, an NGO that monitors the illegal wildlife trade markets and provides conservation education programs for Vietnamese youth. She is also a member of the IUCN SSC Bear Specialist Group, which promotes the conservation of bears living in their natural habitats around the world.