AMONG THE ORANGUTANS: THE BIRUTE GALDIKAS STORY
Volume 21 Number 5
Birute Galdikas is a German-born Canadian who was a student of Louis B. Leakey and a colleague of Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall. She has spent her last twenty years in the jungles of Borneo studying orangutans, and she is now recognized as the world authority on these mysterious primates.
This first volume in the "Great Naturalist" series from Chronicle Books tells the absorbing story of Galdikas, and of her study subjects. At the outset of her career, to prove how serious she was in her desire to study orangutans in the remote rain forests, she volunteered to have both her appendix and her tonsils removed, since there would not be access to a hospital where she would be living.
The book contains many full-colour photographs of orangutans in various poses, holding hands with Galdikas, and playing with Galdikas's own children. In fact, the photographs and the sidebars are given as much space as the print, the 8 x 10 pages thus maintaining an appealing format for younger children and adults alike.
The narrative is interesting and entertaining, and provides an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know how orangutans live in their natural environment. The admixture of personal travails experienced over the years of her research and of her observations of the orangutans' behaviour is not told as a dry, scientific recounting of events, but is written more as an adventure story, one that gives insights into orangutans not readily available in other books.
Technical terms are kept to a minimum. For those words which may be new to some children, such as "anthropology," "primate" or "quarantine," a useful glossary is appended. And to facilitate a search for specific information, there is an index.
For reasons of relevance (endangered species, vanishing rain forests), layout, authoritative information, eye appeal and accessibility to a wide audience, this book is an outstanding buy.
Highly recommended for both elementary and secondary school libraries.
Fred Leicester is the principal at Ecole elementaire Edelweiss in Golden, British Columbia.
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