Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas Hardcover – Jun 11 2013
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“An accessible introduction to Goodall's, Fossey's and Galdikas' lives and work.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“A graphic format admirably propels this lightly fictionalized group biography.” ―The Horn Book
“Presented as dedicated, iconoclastic, and profoundly in awe of the creatures around them, Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas are inspiring figures, and Ottaviani does a first-rate job of dangling enough tantalizing tidbits to pique readers' interest in the topic.” ―Booklist
“The story of how each of these women loved primates and lived among them to study their behavior is compelling, and might inspire a whole new generation of scientists to follow in their footsteps.” ―School Library Journal
“This is an inviting introduction that will undoubtedly lure many readers into further investigation of this groundbreaking fieldwork.” ―BCCB
“Splendid.” ―The Miami Herald on Feynman
“Entertaining and informative.” ―Science on Feynman
“Lovely.” ―Newsday on Feynman
“Captures the jazzy flow of Feynman's life in its spare lines.” ―USA Today on Feynman
“These images capture with remarkable sensitivity the essence of Feynman's character. The comic-book picture somehow comes to life and speaks with the voice of the real Feynman.” ―Freeman Dyson, The New York Review of Books on Feynman
About the Author
Jim Ottaviani has written nonfiction, science-oriented comics since 1997, notably the number one New York Times bestseller, Feynman and Fallout which was nominated for an Ignatz Award. He has worked as a nuclear engineer, caddy, programmer, and reference librarian. Primates is his first collaboration with artist Maris Wicks. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Maris Wicks (Primates) lives in Somerville, Massachusetts. She has used her opposable thumbs to draw comics for Adhouse Books, Tugboat Press, and Spongebob Comics, and written stories for Image and DC Comics. When Maris is not drawing comics, she can be found prepping slides for her collection of vintage microscopes. She is an avid tool user and is particularly fond of bananas.
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Jane Goodall is probably the most well known of these three women, and she was the first woman Leakey was successful in sending to study the great apes. When his former secretary wasn't successful with the chimpanzees (or terribly interested), Goodall, a woman with no formal degree or experience in conducting such a study, was sent. It was there that she conducted some of the most groundbreaking research ever done on the chimpanzees.
Dian Fossey didn't wait for Leakey to discover her, she hunted him down and demanded to be sent to study the mountain gorillas. Leakey, still convinced women are better at this kind of research, put her study together and sent her. It was there that the gorillas became the life and death of Dian Fossey. Her refusal to back down from dangerous people's protection of the poaching of the gorillas was her undoing, but even in death, she is a champion for these beautiful animals.
Birute Galdikas is the least known of these three women. Having come to Leakey after Fossey and Goodall, she was most interested in the illusive orangutans. Lucky for these creatures, their ability to fade into the mist also made them difficult to hunt, which was a protection in and of itself. Galdikas herself was as illusive as her orangutans, but the research she gathered is still unmatched.
This was a lovely little graphic non-fiction mini-biography of how these ladies came to study the great apes and forever shape the way the world viewed them and connected them to the human species. While the book is short and the stories are brief, it is a great starting point if you have a student interested in the study of the great apes. This would be a great paring with Endangered or "Gorillas in the Mist". After they have a taste of these three amazing (and very different) women, it would be fabulous to send them off for further research. I really enjoyed this little book, and I am so glad I happened to stumble upon it!
For those unfamiliar with the three women, the story begins with how Jane Goodall's dream of studying animal in Africa led her to Louis Leakey and her future research. Goodall's success in studying chimpanzees led to Leakey's recruiting both Dian Fossey (gorrillas) and Birute Galdikas (orangutans): Goodalls story flows into Dian's and Dians' into Birute's. The language and storytelling of the book is accessible down to 5th grade, while it's stylistically sophisticated enough for high school readers. Highly recommended for any library with young people interested in natural science. Since at 133 pages, Primates can only be an overview, rather than an in depth exploration, only middle school libraries are likely to find it useful for report-type assignments. Nonetheless this is first rate narrative nonfiction, with a graphic format that seamlessly uses both visual information and the written word to inform the reader, and is highly recommended as such.
Those looking to give this as a gift for younger readers (I have a 10 year old who would like this book) may want to be aware that Leakey's (and the Academic establishment in general)'s tendency to view young women (students, secretaries, researchers) as appropriate targets for sexual exploitation, Birute's divorce and remarriage to a local Borneo man, and Dian Fossey's smoking habit, and her violent murder all come up in the course of this book, but are handled with discretion and restraint. YMMV.
Reading this book you will get an introduction to Louis Leakey, the famed fossil hunter of east Africa. Unconventional and an outsider to the anthropological community, he was long disregarded and looked down on from their ivory towers. Between some spectacular discoveries, his flair as a showman, and the world stage offered him by the National Geographic Society, he became the public face of paleoanthropology. This led to great public interest in the topic, but probably also led to Leakey being overvalued by the public as the key figure in the area.
Leakey understood that to understand people and our ancestry we also needed to understand our closest relatives. Thus he recruited or sponsored Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas. Each made breakthroughs in our understanding of their respective apes, but this book is more about their stories than their discoveries. Some key discoveries are mentioned, but I would have liked this book to offer a little larger window into our relatives.
These women's stories are interesting and inspiring. Until I read them juxtaposed in this book it hadn't occurred to me how the personality of each somewhat mirrored the ape she studied. Goodall seems the best able to move from the field into the public eye, and she studied the very social chimpanzees. Fossey, who became a fierce protector of gorillas, eventually being killed in her quest to save them, most likely by someone her efforts had caused problems for, studied gorillas, who live in small groups which fiercely protect their own. Galdikas, who has stayed more out of the limelight, choose the reclusive orangutans.
This is a quick to read, nicely illustrated introduction to three remarkable women and "their" apes. With luck, it will inspire some readers to read the books they, themselves, wrote. "Primates" should be accessible to a young teen, while still being interesting to an adult.
I was provided a copy for review by the publisher, but have purchased a copy of the final version for a niece.
* Bonobos used to be viewed as a subspecies of chimpanzees, but are now considered a separate, but closely related, species, so we now recognize four other species of great apes.
First Second, 2013
Recommended for grades 5-8
Whoa was I excited for this one! After loving Ivan my third graders researched animal relationships (between humans and/or other animals). The topics vary widely, but I knew this book, that takes them back to the root of primate and human relationships, would pique their interests.
However, the story feels too jumbled to me. We meet Jane Goodall, then Louis Leakey, then Dian Fossey, then Biruté Galdikas, and each time we meet a new character we must flashback to how they became players in the primate research game. Some of the details shared were odd to put it mildly. I don't think young readers need to know that Leakey was cheating on his wife with his secretary.
I do give credit to how the author pulled together all the points in these scientists' lives where they intersect, that must have taken a lot of careful research. And yes, I certainly learned new information about all of the scientists, but I think they either could have had their own books, or this could have been longer and not so compacted. The illustrations are wonderful!
Though this book will appeal to younger grades, I would suggest it for 5th and up due to text and story complexities.
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