Freya, who can’t speak, rescues a dying infant chimpanzee and calls her Ndugu. One day she notices her dog obeying hand signals that Ndugu has copied. When Ndugu next copies American Sign Language signals that Freya and her father use, it has a huge impact on them as they and can now ‘talk’ to Ndugu! And the ties between Freya and Ndugu evolve into a deep bond of sisterly love
A visiting artist inspires Ndugu to try painting a portrait of Freya. The result is at first glance a predictable mess, with facial features missing and colors all wrong. Yet viewers instantly recognize the subject. And as they stand back and look again, they are stunned to find that to their untrained eyes, Ndugu has been able to imbue the portrait with emotions in a way they had not thought possible.
When Ndugu paints more portraits, the family submits some for exhibition. How will International art critics react? Will they recognize them as genuine art or consider them to be rubbish?
How do the portraits affect Ndugu’s relationship with Freya? Do her portraits bridge a gap of understanding between humans and apes?