It’s KidLit Blog Hop Day! Please hop on over and take a look at all the other wonderful things up on other blogs.
Primates: the Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Biruté Galdikas. by Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks.
I’ve mentioned before that Jim Ottaviani is a friend of a friend (that friend being Dave over at Yet Another Comics Blog) I’ve met him a couple of times – he’s a super nice guy, as well as being a librarian and author of science comics. I am always excited to see his new books, even if I’m not sure where to put them. In this case, I bought it for the adult graphic novel collection, because that’s the one I buy for, even though everyone else seems to be assuming that it belongs in youth or teen. Such are the problems of buying graphic novels, which are often not marketed to specific ages the way regular books are.
But on to the book! It covers, in order, the careers of three famous primatologists. I’d heard of Jane Goodall and Dian Fossey growing up, but first heard of Biruté Galdikas when I read Ottaviani’s Dignifying Science, which has stories of many less well known women scientists. This book is one that I read through in a single sitting at work when I was just supposed to be writing the call number in it, yet it’s packed full of information. I felt like I’d learned a whole lot more about all three women as people as well as about their scientific careers and the kind of work that goes into doing first-hand research on how primates live. All three of these women were hand-selected by Louis Leakey to do research on primates (he believed that women had more of the quiet patience needed for years of observation), though they’d all approached him because of their interest in primates. I was amused at how Leakey told both Fossey and Galdikas that they should have their appendixes out before going to live in the wild, and the different reactions the two of them had to this. With words as minimal as this, the art contributes a lot to the feeling of the book. Wicks’ drawings are both straightforward and expressive, conveying the different personalities of the three women as well as the different places and creatures they researched. This is a great introduction to three (four?) scientists everyone should know, told with energy and feeling.
The line “quiet patience needed for years of observation” stick out in my mind. My husband is a scientist (in a lab working on bacteria), and most of the work in his field is done by grad students and they are always under pressure to do lots quick, publish, graduate and go on (though to what jobs exactly, no one’s quite sure since its always cheaper to higher new graduate students than hire someone whose already graduated). I wonder how the changes in funding issues alters the ability of scientists trying to do years of observation. Does the book mention how long term observational research gets funded? Is it still funded these days, I wonder.
Anyway, I’m going to ask my library to get this book in, because I’m always looking for educational comic books for my kids and I to share.
Hmmm… I’m trying to remember (someone else has the book checked out now, so I can’t check first hand)… but I think it was basically Leakey funding everyone, and doing rounds in England recruiting donations from wealthy donors. But I also think that living alone in the wilderness of Borneo or Africa doesn’t cost that much – not like paying grad students who need to pay for expensive student housing & maybe student loans from undergrad.
You honestly find the most interesting books. I would never ever pick up a book like this I am sure, but after reading your review, I totally want to read it. I wonder if I will find it at our local library. Thanks so much for joining us on the Kid Lit Blog Hop. Ps you have the best job in the world… apart from being a stay at home mum/writer lol Cheers Julie
Thanks so much, Julie! If it weren’t from an author I love, I might not have picked up a book on primatologists, either – but I’m so glad I did! And I do love my job – it sounds like you love yours as well!
This really does sound like a cool book! I’ve not read too many graphic novels, but thanks for making sure I keep an open mind! (and also for linking into the Kid Lit Blog Hop!)
I hadn’t read very many graphic novels before I became a librarian, either… but there’s so much good stuff out there that I can’t resist trying as much as I can!
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