primates

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

Released June 11, 2013.

Explore three of the greatest primatologists of the 20th century in this graphic novel.  The book begins with the story of Jane Goodall and how she was recruited by the famous anthropologist Lous Leakey to research chimpanzees.  It shows how she first learned to quietly watch the chimpanzees and be accepted by them as well as her own personal life as she lived in the jungle.  When Dian Fossey is then recruited by Leakey, the story turns to her life and her very different personality as she researched gorillas using similar techniques to Goodall.  The last woman recruited was Galdikas and she studied orangutans and had her own adventures as her research progressed.  Told with humor but also immense respect, the stories of these three pioneering women show the importance of female scientists and the unique paths you can take to reaching your dreams.

Ottaviani writes in the voices of the three women, beautifully capturing their individuality through their words.  The three are profoundly unique yet also amazingly similar in their bravery, dedication and resilience.  I particularly enjoyed the scenes where the three of them were together and the ending which demonstrated how different they were from one another.  It takes a lot of skill to write three women’s voices with such clarity that they are distinct and special.

The art by Wicks has a wonderful simplicity and also a playfulness that makes the book welcoming and light hearted.  This is nonfiction that reluctant readers and young biologists alike will enjoy.  The graphic format is compelling and given the nature of the research makes the entire experience more tangible for young readers.

A great graphic novel, this is a stellar pick for school libraries and public libraries that will have children learning about scientific history without even realizing it!  Appropriate for ages 9-12.

Reviewed from copy received from First Second.