5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
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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
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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.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
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Honestly, it was an OK book. I did not feel that it was anything spectacular. Nothing new was brought to the table, but as a summary of the lives of three impressive women, it was moderately successful. I say moderately, since each individual was given roughly 40 pages of a graphic novel to tell who they were, how they got there, how they first adapted in the jungle, one or two of their revelations, and an aftermath of sorts. Frankly, 40 pages of a graphic novel to cram all that information is not enough and does not do their stories justice. And a good portion of that 40 page summary was used for transitions to connect the stories and talk about how they got the job; Which I approve of since there is nothing worse than a choppy story, but therefore meant that there was even less content in the book itself. It was a good simple summary and I liked how the stories were connected, but I just can not help but wish it was longer so that I could learn more about the primates, their work with the primates and what they pioneered! Sadly, the majority of this book was set outside of the jungle.
I believe that this book is meant to be directed for a younger audience because this book is very short (I read it in roughly an hour), the reading level was low, and I found the book to not be as descriptive/informative as I thought it should be. They had to cut out many scenes to squeeze each biography in 40 pages, and did not have the opportunity to go into much detail as to what these brilliant women actually pioneered.
My biggest quirk was probably how often they alluded to their boss's unfaithfulness with his wife. The author is extremely limited in space for the novel, and each page and panel is crucial. So I thought it was odd when they had enough time to mention that their boss, Louis Leakey, cheated on his wife with his former secretary. After which, throughout all three of the protagonists biographies, he would consistently hit on each of the female protagonists and then it would show his wife disapproving of the situation. The story uses Leakey's constant flirtations and his wife's jealousy for comedic effect, but I personally did not find it very amusing. What is this doing in a children's book? More importantly, why is this a constant theme in a children's book? I would have preferred it if they instead added more actual content to the story. But that is just me.
Other scenes that bugged me was that in addition to the constant allusion to Leakey's unfaithfulness, they showed Biruté losing her husband after a couple of years in the jungle (whom we don't really get to appreciate, despite the fact that he helped, supported and encouraged her throughout the entire process), and Dian growing up to be a bitter old woman who is killed by the locals. A small part of me thought that this book was meant to inspire younger audiences, not scare them. It seems to me that the authors attempted to put too much information into the book, and basically crammed the entirety of someone's life into 40 comic book pages each, which just leaves the reader with a bland aftertaste afterwards.
One thing I did enjoy tremendously was the art. The line work is very clean, the colors well chosen, and the images are fun to look upon. The artwork is not in any way distracting from the actual plot and compliments the writing very well. It is a simple style that works! If anything, a young child will enjoy the book just to turn the pages and see the different images.
Overall, I found that this story is too terse and not very informative to be taken seriously by older audiences, and too mature and depressing for younger audiences. I am not quite certain who the targeted readers are.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas written by Jim Ottaviani, illustrated by Maris Wicks
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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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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.