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Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas [Hardcover]

Jim Ottaviani , Maris Wicks

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Book Description

June 11 2013

Jim Ottaviani returns with an action-packed account of the three greatest primatologists of the last century: Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. These three ground-breaking researchers were all students of the great Louis Leakey, and each made profound contributions to primatology—and to our own understanding of ourselves.

Tackling Goodall, Fossey, and Galdikas in turn, and covering the highlights of their respective careers, Primates is an accessible, entertaining, and informative look at the field of primatology and at the lives of three of the most remarkable women scientists of the twentieth century. Thanks to the charming and inviting illustrations by Maris Wicks, this is a nonfiction graphic novel with broad appeal.

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Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas + Feynman
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Praise for Feynman:

"Splendid." —The Miami Herald

"Entertaining and informative." —Science

"Lovely." —Newsday

"Captures the jazzy flow of Feynman’s life in its spare lines." —USA Today

"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

Praise for Primates:

"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

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 with fellow primate Joe Quinones and their cat, Biggs, 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 she's not making comics, Maris works as a program educator at the New England Aquarium.  She is an avid tool user and is particularly fond of bananas.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  24 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brief, but a Great Overview of their Lives June 19 2013
By OpheliasOwn - Published on
Having just read Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, it seemed fortuitous that I would wander into a local bookstore to find this little gem facing out at me from a shelf in the children's department. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birute Galdikas is a graphic, slightly fictionalized history of the three women who started with Louis Leakey and transformed the world's knowledge of the great apes.

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!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Primates good! June 11 2013
By capreece - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ottaviani delivers yet another page turner. Once you pick it up you can't turn away. It congeals three fantastic scientific lives, how they met, how they stumbled upon doing the work and how their work went.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Primates July 10 2013
By Nicole Levesque - Published on
Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas written by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Maris Wicks
First Second, 2013
Graphic Novel
144 pages
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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly fictionalized, graphic story of three women who revolutionized our understanding of the great apes June 11 2013
By Ursiform - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Although called "Primates", this is really about the (other) great apes*, and three women who were inspired by Louis Leakey to study them: Jane Goodall (chimpanzees), Dian Fossey (gorillas), and Birute Galdikas (orangutans). Having read books by each of these women, this overview rings largely true, although it is obviously not a very deep look at its subjects.

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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Astonishing that so many people used so many words to ... Aug. 6 2014
By Joseph F. Mcconnell - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Astonishing that so many people used so many words to describe this book. If you didn't grow up in the period it describes, I suppose you might find it puzzling (one reviewer certainly did), but for those of us who saw these events and followed the work of these women as it happened, all that pedantry is beside the point. Buy it, read it, and hand it on to your kids. If it makes one in a hundred thousand want to "do science" (as the phrase goes these days) this way, it's served all of us primates well.

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