SILVER MEDAL In the Moonbeam Awards 2015
5 STAR REVIEW by Pacific Book Review 2015
Indie BRAG MEDALLION AWARD 2015
Savanna's Treasure: Wild New Children's Book Proves That Danger, Adversity & Even Poachers Are No Match for the Power of Unlikely Friendships Enthralling young readers and adults alike, Chris Behrens’ ‘Savanna’s Treasure’ shares the story of two unlikely allies who literally take on the troubles of the world. Nobody would think that a baby elephant and a mouse could fight off poachers and pirates – but this engrossing and educational narrative showcases the boundless potential afforded by never giving up and sticking close to those one loves. It’s no wonder Kirkus Reviews hailed the book a “story enriched by an inspiring animal alliance….a good fit for early readers.”
"...story enriched by an inspiring animal alliance....good fit for early readers." —Kirkus Reviews
"...filled with fun-facts." —Writer's Digest
Savanna's Treasure features lovely black and white line drawings by Kim Johnson and offers a story in some ways classic for children's books, covering a friendship between animals and people who discover that their unlikely association can change their world.
While the story line may be classic for a young audience, it's, in fact, a different approach because such tales are usually limited to the very simple picture book age group - and Savanna's Treasure is directed to those beyond the easy reader stage.
Lessons on friendship, perseverance, endurance, and handling adversity and surprises abound as the animals face down everything from poachers to pirates. Pair an overall powerful story line with fine drawings and you have a winning tale.
Be forewarned, Savanna's Treasure is about surviving adversity - and being an animal on the African plane, this includes a degree of violence - tastefully depicted, but present nonetheless: "…her grammy was struggling to get up while two poachers tried to remove her tusks."
These darker moments are more than offset by lovely images: "…two of the elephants lifted their trunks in her direction. Bahiti touched their trunks gently. “If you breathe into their trunks, they’ll remember your scent forever,” Madame Ardhi told the ranger."
As with any read (but especially true in a children's book), it's the protagonists that capture attention - and C. Behrens does a fine job of creating personable creatures that are engaging and fun.
The 'glue' of any story is how its characters are depicted, how they react to one another, and how they bond: Savanna's Treasure is all about these connections and how they play out in the world, and this lends to a fine read that takes an adventure story format and weaves it into something far greater than simple entertainment. Kids with good reading skills (likely, in grades 2-4) will relish this enchanting saga.
Longtime DPW employee pens first children's book
BY LIANNA ALBRIZIO
PASCACK VALLEY COMMUNITY LIFE
Montvale resident Chris Behrens recently released his first children's book, "Savanna's Treasure."
Catch them if you can, savage poachers!
For a group of unlikely animal allies, their trapping devices are useless against the paws of lightning-fast cheetahs and the trunks of mighty elephants, which they use to protect one another in a children's tale of survival, camaraderie and the love of family.
"Savanna's Treasure," Montvale resident Chris Behrens' first children's book that was independently published in March, is set in Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. A wise matriarch of a rambunctious elephant family named Savanna uses her smarts to save her young, as well as two tiny kettle corn-loving mice who are too the targets of preying humans and other blood-thirsty inhabitants of the animal kingdom.
"I hope my characters will show kids how to overcome obstacles and how forming unlikely friendships can be a good thing," he explains. "I hope readers will be inspired to never give up on things."
The same can be said about the first-time author, who never abandoned his desire to become a writer.
Behrens, who is a high school basketball coach at Park Ridge High School and has been employed by Woodcliff Lake's public works department for more than 20 years, had his first brush with the art in the late 1990s when he took a parenting class, something Behrens called "a blessing."
The counselor had the father of two daughters (who were preteens at the time) present a lecture to other parents after reading books on parenting. These books prepared him for when he eventually decided to continue his education at Dominican College in Blauvelt, N.Y., where he says he was encouraged by professors to write.
"One of my daughters was reading 'The Wind in the Willows' then, and she was really enjoying it," he recalls. "I remember thinking how cool it would be to write a story and know a kid enjoyed it like that."
In the mid-2000s while in a literature class, he penned "Savanna's Treasure" as part of a project to write a children's book. At that time, he picked up ideas after watching Disney's "The Lion King" and programs about Africa on the Discovery Channel with his children.
A couple years later, Behrens took the book to a local authors and illustrators conference, an experience he described as an "American Idol" for writers. Unlike many of the other novice authors, Behrens says his ideas for the book were well-received by the professionals.
"Savanna's Treasure," he says, is sprinkled with meaning and fun facts for children between the ages of 10 and 12 to entertain and educate them. Some of the names of characters are words from the Swahili language, the meanings for which are explained in the first few pages. The kettle-corn-eating mice are considered treasures on the savanna, as are the trunks of elephants, and, of course, Savanna's grandchild, Kali, loosely translated as "strong" in Swahili.
"I hope they [the readers] will have a greater appreciation for wildlife all over the world," Behrens says. "I do!"
"Savanna's Treasure" is available on Amazon.com.
Savanna's Treasure tied for the Silver Medal in the category of: Chapter Book for Early Reader!