Review: Primates by Jim Ottaviani

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.

Review: If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano

if you want to see a whale

If You Want to See a Whale by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

The incredible partnership that brought you And Then It’s Spring last year has recreated a similar magic in their second book together.  In this book, a young boy heads to the sea to try to spot a whale.  There are things that you must have to see a whale, one is time to wait and another is a way to not get too comfortable and doze off while waiting.  There are also things that you must ignore, like sweet pink roses that want you to look at them or boats that are floating by or insects crawling in the grass.  Just keep your eyes on the sea and wait.  And then…

Fogliano’s writing is poetry.  She lets us wander into distractions, taking our own eyes off the sea to explore the grass, the roses and the clouds in the sky.  Her pacing is delicious, making us wait for the payoff in the end in a way that doesn’t promise anything other than the wait and the sea itself.  It is that wait and that meander that makes this book so wonderful.  In other words, she makes the book about the journey, about being in the moment, about noticing.

Stead’s illustrations are done in her signature style with fine lines and organic colors that seem to come from childhood crayons.  Adding the friendly dog into the story works well, he serves as another pair of eyes both watching for the whale and being distracted. 

Lovely, simple and filled with charm, this picture book is thoughtful, quiet and worth the wait.   Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

This Week’s Tweets and Pins

Here are the links I shared on my Twitter and Pinterest accounts this week that you might find interesting:

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

Five questions for Jeanne Birdsall – The Horn Book http://buff.ly/1066ZcZ #kidlit

Peter Sis: Accidental children’s book legend – North Adams Transcript http://buff.ly/105ZXVH #kidlit

Pushkin launches new imprint for children’s books in translation | Books http://buff.ly/15sG7Hv

EBOOKS

Microsoft Is Considering Purchasing Nook From Barnes & Noble: Report http://buff.ly/10tCs49 #ebooks

School Libraries Struggle with E-Book Loans | MindShift http://buff.ly/15rX0lA

Sourcebooks, Overdrive launch pilot to demonstrate the impact of ebook library lending on sales — paidContent http://buff.ly/10xl6SN #ebooks

Tor Books says cutting DRM out of its e-books hasn’t hurt business | Ars Technica http://buff.ly/13V3Mvd

LIBRARIES

How Graphic Novels Became the Hottest Section in the Library http://buff.ly/ZI1iAO

Social Media: Libraries Are Posting, but Is Anyone Listening? http://buff.ly/10nFCXl

Summer Reading Benefits – Collaborative Summer Library Program http://buff.ly/116jabx #libraries #reading

TEEN LIT

Coverflip: Maureen Johnson Calls For An End To Gendered Book Covers With An Amazing Challenge (IMAGES) http://buff.ly/15tcaH3

Stacked: Twitterview: Sara Zarr http://buff.ly/15mOkga #yalit