Primates

The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas
by Jim Ottaviana & Maris Wicks
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Content: There’s nothing objectionable, content wise. There is, however, some text in cursive, which may make it difficult for younger readers to read. Also, A found the format confusing, since it bleeds from one story into the next. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) graphic novel section at the bookstore.

This one caught my eye when it came into the store, because honestly? A graphic novel about women scientists: how rare is that. Granted, it’s the same famous women scientists (we ALL know Jane Goodall, right?), but still. Women, animals, science: I’m there.

It’s a loose (read: slightly fictionalized) retelling of how Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas became the sort of scientists they did. It was full of information on how they all met Louis Leakey and how he sent them out to observe and study chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans in the wild. Their styles were vastly different: Dian was the most emotionally involved in her study, I think, and the most passionate about her work. That said, Birutė went the most native; her husband left because she devoted too much of her time to the orangutans purely for the sake of studying them.

I think that’s what fascinated me most about these women. They weren’t in it for recognition or even for purely the sake of science.They were in it because they loved the animals, they wanted to understand them,  and ultimately protect them from ignorance through educating the world. I admire that.

As for the format, I mentioned that A found it difficult to follow. I didn’t, but then I’m an adult. It made me a little sad, though, that she did, because if the kids find the book hard to follow, they won’t be inspired by these women’s stories. And that makes me sad. Perhaps it would have been better to do this in three books, but I enjoyed seeing the connections between these women. I don’t know if I was inspired, but I was at least interested. And that counts for a lot, I think.

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