Sunday, November 15, 2015

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas
Written by Jim Ottaviani
Illustrated by Maris Wicks

A fantastic book that brings together the three best known and most respected primatologists who worked under Louis Leakey - Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas. Jane Goodall is the best known of them and her research on chimpanzees is well recognised, as is Fossey for mountain gorillas, and Galdikas on orangutans.

Tackling each one's story in order, Ottaviani gives you a good understanding of their background and their contributions to the field. The love each one of them has for primates and their compulsions, come across beautifully, so that each character is finely defined.

There is a thread running through the book, of Leakey's attraction to each of the women he hires, which while historically accurate, is not a detail I found necessary to be included in books aimed at children in the age group it targets. Mostly because it in no way adds to the story and could have easily been done away with. Also, the sly hints dropped about his relationship with his proteges leave kids confused about what is being implied, because they're just too vague.

It is a fantastic book for young girls because it shows them that there is no ambition too risky, or too high. That young women even fifty years ago, could go out to the middle of an African jungle to further their careers and follow their dreams.

The art by Maris Wick is competent, but unexceptional and I felt that the features of the three women were rather too similar, only their clothes being a clear demarcator. I also think that the jungles of deep Africa provided a lot of room for creativity and she could have played around a lot more instead of the simple clean plates she's created.

On the whole though, it's a great entry into the biography genre and a great encouragement for young girls. The Bean thoroughly enjoyed it simply for the freedom the primatologists enjoyed in the jungles and the sense that there are no limits to what she can achieve.

Look Inside the Book at MacMillan

[image source: US MacMillan]


ranjani.sathish said...

What a lovely pick MM ! We know about Jane Goodall and have a lovely picture book on her. I think we would be very interested in picking this book to learn about the others too. Good observations on the book and the impact it has on little girls. Thanks for this review.

Sheela said...

Interesting, TMM! I liked that you mentioned how certain facts can be left out of children's books especially when it doesn't add to the story and possibly leaves children confused.

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