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The Sumatran Trilogy

Emma Sandford
Emma Sandford Author Interview

What’s Troubling Tawny? follows a shy young rhino that has trouble making friends and meets a bird that helps her find her confidence and make friends. What was the inspiration for your story?

I wanted to write a story about the Sumatran rhino because, tragically, there are fewer than 80 of these beautiful creatures left. I thought it would be interesting to have a rhino who lacks confidence and struggles with her own body image and insecurities. I also wanted to get across important messages for children in relation to body positivity and how to overcome shyness, which a lot of children and even adults struggle with.

How did you decide on the location for the backdrop to this story?

All three books in the Sumatran Trilogy are set in the Leuser Ecosystem in Sumatra, Indonesia. Originally, whilst I was thinking of locations for the books, I wanted it to be in a rainforest. My research led me to Sumatra, which is one of the most important areas of intact rainforest in the world. It is also the last place where tigers, elephants, rhinos and orangutans still roam together.

What is one thing that you hope readers take away from What’s Troubling Tawny?

There are lots of things I would hope readers will take from the story such as the importance of being yourself, being brave and stepping out of your comfort zone, as well as the environmental messages which are equally important. Perhaps the main message is how vital friendship and kindness are because without Tallulah’s encouragement, Tawny would not have approached Rusty.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am currently working on the final book in the Sumatran Trilogy, Hooray for Heidi!, which is due to be released in June 2022.

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Tawny longs to make friends with another rhino, but her shyness holds her back. When she meets a hornbill called Tallulah, she is surprised to learn that she has a lot in common with the beautiful bird. Will Tawny find a way to overcome her shyness, and can Tallulah help her find a companion?
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