Children's Literature - Greg M. Romaneck
Over the course of several decades Jane Goodall has dedicated herself to the study of animal behavior with a particular focus on the lives of chimpanzees. Because of the fascinating discoveries that have flowed from this work, Dr. Goodall remains one of the most illustrious scientific researchers in the field of primate studies. Beyond her seminal research, Dr. Goodall has shown the world that the lives of chimpanzees, and many other animals, are complicated and full of value. For Dr. Goodall all life is valuable and worthy of being treated with dignity, kindness, and consideration. These values ring true both in her work and in her writing. My Life with the Chimpanzees traces her experiences from childhood to the present and how they have shaped her life's work. This book was originally published over twenty years ago and its reissuance serves as a testimonial to the powerful global impact that her work has had upon the study of animal behavior. In this autobiographical work Dr. Goodall shows how her love for working with animals led to a lifelong study of specific species, their communication patterns, and the social structure of their lives. At a time when global environmental issues threaten the well-being of so many species, Dr. Goodall's words serve as a powerful reminder of how important it is to treat all life with dignity. Further, by reaching out to and inspiring young people through her words, deeds, and beliefs, Dr. Goodall's message remains as urgent as it has ever been. This is an inspirational book and one that youngsters will greatly benefit from. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
So enthusiastically does Goodall relate the first 28 years of her life in the jungles of Tanzania that her odyssey appears to have just begun. The story of her life with the chimpanzees of Gombe has long been available to adults; in this book she brings that world to young readers and may very well inspire them to follow in her footsteps.The book begins with tales of her childhood in England and her earliest awareness of the needs of animals, her friendship with Louis Leakey and her trip with her motherto the first camp at Gombe. Goodall talks of the sacrifices of living as she hasher first marriage ended in divorce, and she sees her family (including her son Grub) infrequently. Stories of the chimps dominate the bookthey threaten to steal the show in many instances; readers will love meeting these personable animals. And because anecdotes about the chimps bear rereading, an index or other means of looking up a particular fact would have been a bonus. Ages 8-12. (March)
Noted scientist and conservationist Goodall provides listeners with stories about her life and her experiences studying chimpanzees in Africa. She talks about her first exposure to animals at a farm near her home and how the book Dr. Doolittle helped crystallize her desire. Later Goodall comments on her first trip to the continent and how meeting Dr. Louis Leakey led to her life's work, living among the animals, learning their behaviors, and bringing that information to the rest of the world. Though this tape starts out as an autobiography, it focuses mostly on the work of the Goodall Institute and "Roots and Shoots," organizations created to encourage the protection of animals and their habitats. The author reads her own tale and seems sort of detached even when discussing her interest in saving the world's animals. The book also lacks depth, glossing over Goodall's life and telling her story simply, which could make this tedious listening for adults. For public and school libraries. Danna Bell-Russel, Library of Congress Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6 Goodall's autobiography pre sents a fascinating insight into her per sonal life, her research, and her philos ophy. A major part of the book covers her work at the Gombe Stream Research Center in Tanzania and includes observations of a chimp family through several generations. Many of the pho tographs from this period were taken by her first husband, Hugo van Lawick. Their son, Grub, is a focal point of many of her anecdotes about life in the camp at Gombe. Goodall completes her story by encouraging young people to nurture an interest in nature, giving ad vice on how to observe animals and stressing the importance of preserving wildlife. Her autobiography reflects on the importance of friends and family and the need for humans to coexist with nature. The writing flows smoothly, and the progression of stories blends well to present to readers a sincere, al though sometimes sentimental, human being. Cynthia M. Sturgis, Ledding Library, Milwaukie, Oreg.
Read an Excerpt
From Chapter 1
It was very stuffy and hot where I crouched, and the straw tickled my legs. There was hardly any light, either. But I could see the bird on her nest of straw. She was about five feet away from me, on the far side of the chicken house, and she had no idea I was there. If I moved I would spoil everything. So I stayed quite still. So did the chicken.
Presently, very slowly, she raised herself from the straw. She was facing away from me and bending forward. I saw a round white object gradually protruding from the feathers between her legs. It got bigger. Suddenly she gave a little wiggle and plop! it landed on the straw. I had actually watched the laying of an egg.
With loud, pleased clucks, the chicken shook her feathers, moved the egg with her beak, then proudly strutted her way out of the henhouse.
I tumbled out, stiff but excited, and ran all the way to the house. My mother was just about to call the police. She had been searching for me for hours. She had no idea that I had been crouched all that time in the henhouse.
This was my first serious observation of animal behavior. I was five years old. How lucky it was that I had an understanding mother! Instead of being angry because I had given her a scare, she wanted to know all about the wonderful thing I had just seen.
Even though I was so young at the time, I can still remember a lot about that experience. I remember being puzzled about eggs. Where on a chicken was there an opening big enough for an egg to come out? I don't know if I asked anyone. If I did, no one told me. I decided to find out for myself. I remember thinking as I watched a hen going into one of the henhouses, "Ah, now I'll follow her and see what happens." And I remember how she rushed out, squawking in alarm, when I squeezed in after her. Obviously that was no good. I would have to get in first and wait until a hen decided to come in and lay her egg. That is why I was so long inside the henhouse. You have to be patient if you want to learn about animals.
When I grew up I became an ethologist a long word that simply means a scientist who studies animal behavior. Most people, when they think of an animal, think of a creature with hair, such as a dog or cat, a rabbit or a mouse, a horse or a cow. In fact, the word animal includes all living creatures except for plants. Jellyfish and insects, frogs and lizards, fish and birds are all animals just as cats and dogs are. But cats and dogs and horses are mammals, a special kind of animal. Humans are mammals, too.
You probably know all that. Children today know a lot more about these sorts of things than most adults did when I was your age. I remember having a huge argument with one of my aunts when I tried to make her believe that a whale was a mammal, not a fish. She wouldn't believe me and I cried. I was so frustrated.
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