Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas

Ottaviani, Jim (Author)
Wicks, Maris (Illustrator)
Macmillan 2015. 144 pages
First published: 2013
ISBN: 9781250062932
Original language: English
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Biography

Text Elements:

dialogue, multimodal, point of view, setting, stance

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This interconnected graphic tale of three groundbreaking scientists’ work portrays their lives in the wild, studying their chosen subjects. In first-person narrative, each woman tells her own story. Jane Goodall’s dedication to chimpanzee observation is joined by Dian Fossey’s more assertive conservation on behalf of her beloved gorillas. Biruté Galdikas finds further challenges in observing the solitary-natured orangutan.

While addressing life in academia, the story touches on gender in science. All three women were mentored by renowned anthropologist Louis Leakey. As Galdikas reports, “Louis believed women were more perceptive and more patient . . . didn’t bring out aggression in male primates the way men did.” But as a single woman, Dian had to negotiate unwanted attention from Louis, and sexism in the field.

Charming full-colour artwork balances realism with cartoon humour. One panel shows Goodall smiling down on a chimp as he peeks up her shirt. Another depicts Galdikas, chest deep in a swamp, with an orangutan rescue-baby clinging to her shoulders.

Altogether, this book highlights the passionate, creative side of scientific investigation—as well as the unique contribution of women. As Goodall says at the end, “The message we’ve been sending through the years is that you must be a scientist first and a human being second. And I think that’s the wrong message.”

  •  

    Graphic biographies render time and location through different techniques such as inset panels, colour and the narrator’s voice. Discuss the way the authors deal with time and place, and the way text and image work together.

  •  

    What do you notice about the use of panel transitions, framing and other features to tell the interwoven stories of three of science’s leading primatology researchers?

  •  

    With a small group, explore a variety of graphic biographies and identify some conventions of these multi-genre texts. Keep notes in a reader-writer notebook to use in the production of a graphic biography.

  •  

    After reading the front and back covers, create a KWL chart for each of the three scientists. Add notes in the “What I Know” (K) column and the “What I Would Like to Know” (W) column.

  •  

    Complete the third column of your KWL chart. In small teams, highlight your unanswered questions from your “W” column on an index card and discuss them. Refer to the three websites (recommended on the acknowledgements page) to obtain more information.

  •  

    Choose a different scientist and create a short comic-strip biography using this book as a model. Pay attention to the text components. Include a cover page and bibliography as well as (three) open-ended questions you would ask your scientist, given the chance.

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Environmental Awareness and Consumer Rights and Responsibilities
  • Science and Technology