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Graphic Novel, Middle Grade Readers, Teacher & Parent Recommendations, Young Adult Readers

PRIMATES by Jim Ottaviani & Maris Wicks

PrimatesI am excited about the nonfiction graphic novel Primates!  It tells the story of three female animal behaviorists:  Jane Goodall and her study of chimpanzees, Dian Fossey and her work with gorillas and Birsuté Galdikas and her study of orangutans.

Told through brilliantly engaging illustrations which resemble the best ‘Sunday Comics’ style and brilliantly spare and focused text Primates is a great introduction for anyone interested in these fascinating animals.  Personally, I have been a fan of both Goodall’s and Fossey’s amazing work; this book was my introduction to the work of Haldikas.

Many times nonfiction falls into either the juvenile genre which is only helpful for much younger readers and meant as a basic introduction to the animal itself or the adult realm where the vocabulary is too technical, the print is too small and the length of the book is too daunting.  For reluctant readers or for those who may be interested in animal behavior research but struggle to slog through a lot of the nonfiction books that exist Primates is a nice opportunity.

The same things which serve as advantages also cause some problems in that there is a LOT of information about both these women’s work and the animals themselves. It is not possible–especially when writing about all three researchers–to completely develop every idea or aspect of their lives as researchers or as people.

This is a great accompaniment in the classroom or at home for fictional reads like the now-popular (and extraordinarily good) The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate or in conjunction with other nonfiction stories and DVDs about animals such as Koko the Gorilla (who learned sign language with Francine Patterson) or picture books like Looking For Miza by Juliana, Isabella and Craig Hatkoff with Dr. Paula Kahumba (story of gorilla family which searched for and found one of their children when she disappeared). Primates  is also an exhilarating way to introduce, discuss and study ecology: the protection and preservation of these magnificent animals and their natural environments.

If a reader is already interested in or excited about one or more of these animals Primates will be an easy read.  For a reader without any prior knowledge of the subject some introduction in the form of Ivan or Miza or one of the many documentary films about the work of any of these women or others in similar fields to pique curiosity.

If you are looking for nonfiction graphic novels or are interested in primates and the research which surrounds them, Primates is a perfect reading choice.



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