cover image Gorilla Walk

Gorilla Walk

Ted Lewin. HarperCollins Publishers, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16509-3

The Lewins' first collaboration recounts their 1997 journey to southern Uganda to view mountain gorillas. Before taking readers along on their expedition, the authors explain the phenomenon of ecotourism that makes such sightings possible: trackers spend up to two years habituating mountain gorillas to the presence of humans. Writing in the present tense, the Lewins emphasize the rough conditions, noting that ""the heat and humidity are dreadful"" and, though their water supply is depleted, they trudge on, ""caked with mud, our hearts pounding from exertion, our faces sucked in from dehydration, our hair matted down with sweat."" The recounting of the first sighting of a mountain gorilla is curiously flat; the authors note that ""our thirst and fatigue are forgotten,"" but they don't communicate excitement, much less exhilaration. The watercolor art alternates between labeled, sketchbook-type images and full-spread, realistic paintings rendered with an appreciation for light and shadow. The former offer a solid overview of the area's wildlife and illustrate selected moments in the Lewins' travelogue, while the latter situate readers at the trekkers' side. But the art disappoints in the encounters with the gorillas: the images of these animals are the least defined. Readers may come away with the feeling that one really had to be there to appreciate it. Ages 6-up. (Aug.)