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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
Friends are important. Sahbaah and Nero know this all too well. They have been best friends since they were young cubs. Sahbaah is a tiger; Nero is a lion. It doesn’t matter that they are different animals in the jungle. They have other friends, too; a cheetah, a rhinoceros, and even a crocodile. The innocence of youth and young friendships is unfettered by adult-based prejudices and unwarranted ideas that differences should not be accepted in a community. But the young know the importance and power of good friends, even if they are different. Sahbaah is definitely different. He has a secret that he tries to hide, that his parents help him hide. But, as he becomes more adventurous out in the jungle with his friends, his secret unravels and that’s his downfall, in a way. Nero’s father is king of the jungle and he commands Sahbaah to leave their jungle. The belief is that Sahbaah’s difference will be a danger to all the other animals. Sahbaah survives, young though he is when he’s banished, and he comes back to prove the king wrong in so many ways, but mostly in a noble, kind way.
Paul G. Wilson’s middle-grade novel, Sahbaar’s Secret: The Fight for Acceptance, is a powerful story that not only entertains, but it also educates young readers on the power and importance of good friends, the importance of family and, most significantly, the importance to accept and sometimes even honor everyone’s differences. For we are all different; human or animal, each one of us has something about us that makes us unique, makes us different. The plot is well developed and the reader is rooting for Sahbaah all the way through. What a grand adventure!