Review: Chimpanzee Children of Gombe by Jane Goodall

chimpanzee children of gombe

Chimpanzee Children of Gombe by Jane Goodall, photos by Michael Neugebauer

Jane Goodall invites young readers to spend some time in the Gombe National Park in Tanzania with the chimpanzee families she has been studying for decades.  Readers are introduced to two chimpanzee families, F-family and G-family, who are all named with that letter as the first in their name.  So there are Ferdinand, Faustino and Fifi and also Gremlin, Galahad and Gaia.  Goodall shows similarities between humans and chimpanzees, including greeting each other with kisses, having mothers who are good and others who are not so good, and children who love to play.  The book celebrates the close family bonds of chimpanzees, the caring mothers who lug children on their fronts and then their backs, siblings who play together, and the way young are taught to use tools.  The result is a book that is a trip to their world and an invitation to learn more about these amazing endangered animals.

Goodall writes with a wonderful inviting tone, explaining facts carefully but also allowing the images of the animals to tell much of the story.  She plays hostess in the book, taking care to make sure that children know the basics about the chimpanzees and then also moving on to include other animals like baboons and monkeys that live in the same area.  The book nicely balances offering just enough information to stay fascinating and not overwhelming children with too many small facts.  Instead it reads as a stroll alongside Goodall through her research center.

The photographs by Neugebauer reinforce what Goodall is explaining in words.  Readers see the close family ties, they witness young chimpanzees at play, and there are gorgeous shots of the habitat itself that show how special and important this place is. 

A strong introduction to Goodall’s work, this book is engaging and inspiring.  Appropriate for ages 6-9.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Little Red Riding Hood by Sybille Schenker

little red riding hood

Little Red Riding Hood by The Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Sybille Schenker, translated by Anthea Bell

This follow-up to the illustrator’s gorgeous rendition of Hansel and Gretel continues to show her amazing skills with cut paper illustrations.  The cover the book is pure black with cut outs that reveal a red and white pattern behind.  It’s rather like opening a door into another world.  The story is the traditional one, told in a simple way that highlights the more dramatic moments.  Be prepared for the traditional ending with the wolf killed, his body cut open and then refilled with stones so that he dies.  This is not a modernized and gentle version at all.  Yet that works particularly well with these incredible illustrations and the wonder they evoke. 

Schenker plays with her cut paper throughout.  There are times when the page is entirely cut through, into patterns.  Other times the illustrations are cut paper but the page is whole.  You will find yourself running your hands over the page to see if the cuts are actual or simply visual.  She shows such skill throughout creating moments that change as you turn the page and they become even more dazzling as you look back through the cuts.  My favorite page turn is when the wolf eats Little Red Riding Hood, it’s an astonishing change that works oh so well.

Wundergarden has some illustrations online from Schenker.  Here are ones from this book:

If you are looking for a version of Little Red Riding Hood to treasure, this is it.  It may not last for long on public library shelves, but it is a book that will be loved by those who discover it.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.