Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, written by Anita Silvey. National Geographic Kids, Random House. 2015. $21.99 ages 10 and up
If you are still of the mind that one person cannot make a difference in this world, look to Jane Goodall. She has been working tirelessly to prove that change is possible since she was a child. Her life is an inspiration to many. Now readers of this new book can see how they might help in some small way to make their own difference.
In this chronological account of her life, we learn (if we didn't know from previous works about her) that she loved animals from the get-go. She studied her pets and other nearby animals, keen to note their behaviors.
"She spent hours waiting for a chicken to lay an egg. She tried to keep earthworms under her pillow. She tempted an ordinary bird into her bedroom as a companion. She trained a dog to do tricks, watching him to understand how his mind worked. But she always wished she could observe animals in more exotic places; in fact, because of the books she read, she wanted to go to Africa."
Never losing sight of that goal, she made a trip to Africa in her 20s; that changed everything -for Jane and for the scientific community at large. Her understanding of scientific observation led to work that would change how many scientists see the world today. Her love of the chimpanzees she encountered and observed in Gombe has resulted in accumulated research that caused us to think more clearly about the connections between humans and apes. Her love of her Gombe Family encouraged her lifelong work in conservation and education that continues to this day.
In the foreword, she has a message for the children and teachers who will read this engaging account of her life and work.:
"You may feel there is not much you can do to help, but when hundreds and thousands of young people do what they can, it makes a huge difference. So if you love animals, like I do, let us roll up our sleeves together and each do our own bit. Remember - your life is important. You make a difference every single day. And you get to choose what sort of difference you want to make."
Using archival photographs from National Geographic, as well as from the Jane Goodall Institute, the author allows a clear look at the love and admiration that Ms. Goodall has always had for her chimps:
"Jane would eventually study three generations of chimpanzees over a 55-year period, one of the longest continuous field studies of wild animals ever conducted."
She loved that life and worked tirelessly to help the world understand what she was learning from them. She was inspired by their intelligence and their tenderness. She loved Gombe, their homeland. I love the photos that so clearly show her interacting with these amazing creatures. I have some favorites and the readers for whom this book is written are sure to find their own.
Anita Silvey includes sidebars, double page bursts of information relevant to Ms.Goodall's life in Africa and with other scientists, maps, accessible and informative captions for the many photos, field notes, a Gombe Family Scrapbook, a time line of Jane's life, an extensive resource list, notes, and index. All serve to help readers find out about this honorable teacher and scientist who has given so much to our knowledge of the world beyond our own borders.
Intelligent, adventurous, curious and caring, Jane Goodall is a hero for young people to emulate when wanting to make a difference in our world.