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

Jim Ottaviani and Maris Wicks. MacMillan/First Second, $19.99 (144p) ISBN 978-1-59643-865-1

Ottaviani(Feynman) examines the lives and scientific work of the three great primatologists of the 1960s, as they intersect through mutual mentor Louis Leakey. The book begins with a young Goodall, who is fascinated by Tarzan (and is jealous of “the other Jane”), as she’s drawn into research by Leakey, who believes that women make better researchers than men due to their observational skills . Fossey and Galdikas have similar stories, studying gorillas and orangutans respectively. The women make groundbreaking discoveries in primatology, forever changing scientists’ views of humans’ closest relatives while battling obstacles—from poachers to government obstruction. Ottaviani succeeds in capturing their hard work and the thrilling breakthroughs during years of research, without looking away from some of the darker details, such as Leakey’s womanizing. Wicks’s cartoony illustrations are a great match for the story; they never get bogged down with unnecessary details and briskly move forward the account of the women and their subjects. A riveting, jargon-free overview of one of the great stories of animal research. (June)