Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas
Written by: Jim Ottaviani
Illustrated by: Maris Wicks
Publisher: Square Fish
Format: Softcover, 5.5 x 8, 144 pages, Full Color, $12.99
Every so often I come across a title I wished I would've thought to write myself. Immediately following that self-indulgent thought, however, follows this one: Such an important biography in graphic novel format, please G-d tell me they took the care to do it right? Did they represent such influential people and their brilliant contributions to science and humanity well? Well enough, I might even add, can I recommend teachers and librarians use this book in their schools?
My recommendation to teachers, librarians, and parents about Primates: You must absolutely own this graphic novel.
Appropriate for fourth grade readers and above this graphic novel is not only appropriate for a diverse age-range of student readers, but also diverse range of content area learning. For that reason, the elements of story listed below are generated from and apply to both the Common Core Standards for Language Arts and those for teaching Social Studies or History in your state (www.corestandards.org).
English Language Arts Elements of Story
Plots: A biographical focused on three of the twentieth centuries most influential scientists, this graphic novel offers kids and adults both textual and visual vital information that is classroom and general knowledge friendly.
Major Characters: Jane Goodall, Jane's mom and sister, Dr. Louise Leaky, Brute Galdikas, Hugo, Flo, Fagen, Figan, Fifi, Flint, Peanuts, Dian Fossey, Too, Barbara Harrison, Alan Root, Mary Leakey, Rod, Pak Bohap, President Habyarimana
Major Settings: London; Africa; Tanzania; Indonesia; Tanzania; Gombe; Congo; Mt. Karisimbo; Mt. Visoke; Cambridge, MA; Mt. Mikeno; Tanjung National Park; Louisville, KY
Themes: Biography, Friendship, Travel, Passion, Relationships, Scholarship and Scientific Research
Reading and Social Studies Recommendations Using the Common Core Standards For Young Adult Readers
Key Ideas and Details*
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.3 Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
* The number referenced above corresponds to the number used by the Common Core Standards (www.corestandards.org)
Lesson Idea for Young Adult Readers:
All three of the significant women chronicled in this graphic novel have amazing and significant profiles imperative for young adult readers to both understand and learn from. For that reason, the following three graphic organizers offer students an opportunity to profile each of them. Along with profiling each woman scientist students will also find a space to journal their thoughts and reflections on what they have learned (and can eventually share with the rest of the class for discussion purposes).
Dr. Katie Monnin is an Associate Professor of Literacy at the University of North Florida. Besides the joy that comes with reading comic books and graphic novels, Dr. Monnin enjoys a Peter Pan-ish life of researching and writing her own books about teaching comics, graphic novels, and cartoons: Teaching Graphic Novels (2010), Teaching Early Reader Comics and Graphic Novels (2011), Using Content-Area Graphic Texts for Learning (2012), Teaching Reading Comprehension with Graphic Texts (2013), and Get Animated! Teaching 21st Century Early Reader and Young Adult Cartoons in Language Arts (2013); Teaching New Literacies in Elementary Language Arts ( in press, 2014). When she is not writing (or sitting around wondering how she ended up making an awesome career out of studying comics and graphic novels), Dr. Monnin spends her time with her two wiener dogs, Sam and Max.