Richie's Picks: PRIMATES
Richie's Picks: PRIMATES: THE FEARLESS SCIENCE OF JANE GOODALL, DIAN FOSSEY, AND BIRUTÉ GOLDIKAS by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, ill., First Second, June 2013, 144p., ISBN: 978-1-59643-865-1
"I suppose you think gorillas can't understand you. Of course, you also probably think we can't walk upright.
"Try knuckle walking for an hour. You tell me: Which way is more fun?"
-- from THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate
"Of course, it turns out that much of what we scientists 'discover' is well known by local people. Our friend Mr. Hamzah was quite blasé when I told him about a walking orangutan."
Okay, I've just come back upstairs after doing the excitedly jumping up and down bit, telling my young housemates about this brilliant graphic novel; how it is a great introduction to these three world-changing female scientists, and how it also had me literally rolling on the floor -- while being very careful not to tell them (or you) the details about what is so funny.
What a great piece of storytelling and artistry!
Having been so fond of Patrick MdDonnell's ME...JANE, and having been so head over heels about Katherine Applegate's IVAN, I was thrilled to pull this one out of the box and have at it. Other than this book's first section, about Jane Goodall, some of which I already knew (having followed up ME...JANE by going to YouTube and watching a 60 Minutes piece on Goodall), this was, otherwise, all pretty much uncharted territory for me. I mean, I'd heard of Dian Fossey and anthropologist Louis Leakey; I hadn't heard of Biruté Goldikas; and I must confess my ignorance as to many details of these women's respective work, or how they and Leakey were all connected..
Feeling like this is one of those times where less is more, I'm going to keep it somewhat brief and simply urge you to take my word for it: You want this book. Back in an age when so many potential female scientists found impossible barriers to surmount (See, for instance, ALMOST ASTRONAUTS by Tanya Lee Stone and LET ME PLAY by Karen Blumenthal.), and thanks in large part to Leakey's belief in the abilities of women, these three women began their engagements in fieldwork that radically changed mankind's understanding of other primate species. Jane Goodall was inspired to go to Nigeria and study chimpanzees. Dian Fossey was inspired to go to Rwanda and study mountain gorillas. Biruté Galdikas was inspired to go to Borneo and study orangutans. And they weren't just inspired. They did it. Each of the three arguably became the world's foremost expert in her respective field.
This book, which is partially fact, partially fictionalized storytelling, will play well with audiences between ages ten and eighteen. I love the way that we transcend the surface bio stuff, and get to really enjoy the very different personalities of these three women.
You want to do a little something to help save endangered primate species? Do you want to help inspire more girls to get excited about the sciences? Get this book into lots of hands. The writing and artwork make it one inspiring piece of adolescent literature.
Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
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