cover image The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps

The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps

Jeanette Winter, Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-375-86774-3

With her customary care, Winter (Biblio-burro) covers the whole of primatologist Goodall's life and work: her childhood observing animals and dreaming of Africa, her fateful meeting with Louis Leakey, early encounters with the chimpanzees ("David Greybeard has—yes—he has TAKEN BANANAS FROM MY HAND"), and, years later, her departure from Gombe because her "beloved chimpanzees were in danger of becoming extinct. They needed Jane to speak for them." The story's drama comes from the suspense of approaching the chimps, little by little; it took months for trust to build and required trials like sitting out in all kinds of weather: "She saw the chimps accept the rain, not look for shelter, as we do." Winter's repeated, stencil-like patterns give a sense of the wealth of green and the endless reaches of the Tanzanian landscape. (The chimpanzees don't fare as well; her flat style doesn't lend itself to the nuances of expression that distinguish primate individuals.) It's a fine introduction both to Goodall's life and to the idea that excellent science can come from nothing more than close, extended observation. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)