"Lily's Lament" (approximately $20 at Made In Chico) features full-color illustrations by Steve Ferchaud which bring lemurs to life with a distinctive tail to tell. There's a bite to this tale as it's the story of what's happening to the lemurs' home in far-off Madagascar.
"What bothers me most," Lily notes, "is I'm getting old at 17, and as leader of my troop (alpha female), I may not be able to protect and care for my family much longer. Our living space has been squeezed down to the ... southwest corner of our country. Although we spend about one-third on the ground, we still need the forest for food."
Lily is eighteen inches tall; though she weighs but five pounds, "don't sell me short on brain power. I've been able to learn simple arithmetic, understand patterns, and pick the right tool to do a job (sequencing)." As Cory writes in the introduction, non-human animals have ways of communicating, even "the ability to select, create, and use tools."
For Cory, "watching long-tailed lemurs hop, skip, and jump across open ground in Madagascar is so much like children playing on a school playground during recess. There must be some common emotions, pleasures, and need of expression." Humans should not forget.
Lily's country is poor; the most important export is natural vanilla, but the consequences for Lily are stark: "I like awake at night in my cave bed wondering what value we have to our country. Is the wood and natural vanilla so valuable to drive us off the island? Our lives are at stake (endangered) not only by this lost ground ... but by hunters for food, and pet collectors. We live on the edge of 'no more' (extinction)."
Could tourism be an answer? Kids coming to Madagascar "could watch us jump from tree to tree, climb the rocky sides of steep mountains, and hop, skip, and jump" along the ground. It's an optimistic dream, and Cory leaves readers with much to think about.