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  • Review: Primates July 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary , trackback

    Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks, Primates

    This blog has a tradition of, from time to time, flagging up excellent children’s books on history and the supernatural. Primates, a 140-page comic, falls very much into the first of these two categories. It takes the lives of three biological anthropologists, only two of whom are still alive: Jane Goodall (chimpanzees); Dian Fossey (gorilla); and Birute Galdikas (orangutans). These three women had a number of points in common. First, they came from non academic backgrounds; second, they were recruited by Louis Leakey who was able to see past their lack of qualifications (Leakey was convinced that women were less threatening to primates and also better able to observe); and third, they fell in love with their subjects and spent years in the wild studying their respective primates. These patterned lives and their common link with Leakey means that a common biography became a real possibility and some of the most moving scenes are when the women come together. The author simultaneously does two other rather remarkable things. He manages to avoid the sanctification of his subject (something which ruins so many biopics in comics and films). The three women are actually rather difficult individuals and this comes across: there is, for example, an extraordinary scene where Fossey advocates the hanging of poachers. He also manages – and this is the book’s greatest achievement – to give magic to moments of revelation as our heroines find out something new: this blogger got goose-bumps, for example, when Galdikas came upon an orangutan walking. The art-work does no damage here. It is consistent and very well judged. For parents, for uncles and aunts, for godparents in search of strong female role models for growing girls this book offers something special. Beach’s nine year old daughter (for whom English is not a first language) announced that the book was ‘a bit old’ for her, but for eleven or twelve-year-olds…

    Other interesting reads: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com