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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.