Tag Archives: chimpanzees

A Wild Life

14 Oct

My niece Rachel was about 18 months old when the May 1979 National Geographic featured Jane Goodall’s article “Life and Death at Gombe“. Rachel would grab me by the hand, lead me into the living room and pick up that magazine so we could look at the pictures of the chimps. We didn’t call them chimps; to her they were monkeys. As we read it I loved asking her “What does a monkey say?” and she would scrunch up her little face, hunch her shoulders and say “OO-OO-OO.”

This was long before Jane Goodall became the world-famous messenger of peace. At this point she was simply jane Goodall, primatologist.

So, when I was ALA and saw that Anita Silvey would be signing free copies of her biography of Goodall, I waited in line for my turn. The book, Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, was certainly worth the wait.


First, it is full of pictures like the ones my niece loved, but also those of Jane’s childhood and her life beyond Gombe. The text is written in a highly engaging and informative style that young naturalists will enjoy.  Ample sidebars provide information about people and books that influenced Goodall, significant animals in her life, the people she has influenced and the organizations she is involved with. Unexpected, but interesting tips for kids who want a career with animals and  new technology for scientists in the field, help connect Goodall’s work directly to readers’ lives. Back matter includes a timeline, chimp facts, a Gombe family scrapbook, a bibliography and index.

This is an excellent book for research, or for those wanting just to browse through its stunning photos.

Serendipity with dolphins

3 Jul

In amongst the very famous authors at last Sunday’s YA Coffee Klatch were some lesser known authors. It doesn’t mean they were less skilled authors. When Ginny Rorby sat at our table and held up the novel she was promoting,


I blurted out, “That is sitting in my to read pile right now!” It was serendipitous.

Publisher’s Summary: Lily loves her half-brother, Adam, but she has always struggled with him, too. He’s definitely on the autism spectrum–though her step-father, Don, can barely bring himself to admit it–and caring for him has forced Lily to become as much mother as sister. All Lily wants is for her step-father to acknowledge that Adam has a real issue, that they need to find some kind of program that can help him. Then maybe she can have a life of her own.

Adam’s always loved dolphins, so when Don, an oncologist, hears about a young dolphin with cancer, he offers to help. He brings Lily and Adam along, and Adam and the dolphin–Nori–bond instantly.

But though Lily sees how much Adam loves Nori, she also sees that the dolphin shouldn’t spend the rest of her life in captivity, away from her family. Can Adam find real help somewhere else? And can Lily help Nori regain her freedom without betraying her family?

Ginny is also the author of Hurt Go Happy, which won a 2008 Schneider Family Book Award.


Publisher’s Summary:Thirteen-year-old Joey Willis is used to being left out of conversations. Though she’s been deaf since the age of six, Joey’s mother has never allowed her to learn sign language. She strains to read the lips of those around her, but often fails.

Everything changes when Joey meets Dr. Charles Mansell and his baby chimpanzee, Sukari. Her new friends use sign language to communicate, and Joey secretly begins to learn to sign. Spending time with Charlie and Sukari, Joey has never been happier. She even starts making friends at school for the first time. But as Joey’s world blooms with possibilities, Charlie’s and Sukari’s choices begin to narrow–until Sukari’s very survival is in doubt.

I highly recommend both!

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