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The Heart of the Beast: Eight Great Gorilla Stories

The Heart of the Beast: Eight Great Gorilla Stories

by Nancy Roe-Pimm

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Nancy Garhan Attebury
Jack Hanna from Animal Adventures praises this book as being "insightful and authentic." In addition, he says it gives readers information about "the history, behaviors, and intriguing nature of these, the greatest of great Apes." This well-researched and informative book offers readable, interesting stories about gorillas such as Snowflake, an albino gorilla, Koko, who learned to communicate with his keeper in sign language, and Willie B., a compassionate gorilla. Black and white photos add to the text as do sidebars bursting with facts. Other interesting information includes a chart showing the developmental ages and stages of a real child as compared to a gorilla child and an explanation of why apes cannot learn to speak like humans. A timeline covers years from 1846, when missionaries first wrote down a description of a gorilla, to the year 2004. This book will make a great supplement to classroom science curriculums. It can be used for report gathering and can be read in chapters or as a whole. Young students will enjoy it for the photos and it would be well-suited for them as a teacher read-aloud. As compared to other books about apes, this one can be marked as "the cream of the crop."
VOYA - Ria Newhouse
At the end of Pimm's heartfelt look into the world of gorillas, she writes, "due to their strength, size, large jaws, and sharp teeth, gorillas have unfortunately long been misunderstood as ferocious, unfeeling beasts." It would have been far more helpful to begin with this information in a book that explores the lives of eight great gorillas who really are not beasts at all. From Hanabi-Ko "Koko," who learned to sign more than two hundred words by the time she was five years old, to Copito de Nieve "Snowflake," the "world's one and only known albino gorilla," this book is filled with the tales of gorillas who raise kittens, dine and drink from champagne glasses, and take on the role of single fatherhood. Librarians might have a difficult time selling this title to teens, but once it is in their hands, they will likely voraciously devour the plethora of fascinating facts presented in this tale. The pictures of these creatures who have been captured from Africa and beyond and the sometimes haunting recounting of their time in captivity is well done. Pimm delivers on a tough subject. By the time one is finished reading about Binti Jua, a "good gorilla mom" who nurtured, rocked, and held a "three-year-old human child who had fallen into her enclosure," the reader will have a special place in his or her heart for each of the beasts described. Expect to talk to budding zoologists when this book hits the shelves.
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8
Eight stories reveal the intelligent and emotional sides of captive gorillas, thus showing the "heart of the beast." Readers familiar with Koko and the attempts of her trainer, Penny Patterson, to teach her sign language; Dian Fossey; and Jane Goodall will find familiar entry points into the gorillas' life histories. Numerous sidebars, including range maps and a taxonomy chart, enhance the narratives. Much of the basic information would be useful for research, but the poor organization, too-cute sidebar titles ("What Big Teeth You Have!" "If You're Happy and You Know it . . . "), and illogically arranged and nonintuitive index hamper easy access to the information. Browsers grabbed by the attractive color cover will need to overcome the dowdy look of the book's interior, with its cramped black-and-white photos, too-small font, and busy woven-cloth backgrounds at the beginning of each chapter. An extensive bibliography follows an abbreviated list of items for further reading, but students may find themselves confused by the two lists since they overlap and both include a mix of titles for young and adult readers. An additional purchase.
—Ellen FaderCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Exceptional Science Titles for Intermediate Grades Series
Product dimensions:
7.70(w) x 8.70(h) x 0.60(d)
1100L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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