Much of what we know about how chimpanzees behave is thanks to one person: Jane Goodall.
Goodall has spent decades in the eastern African nation of Tanzania observing chimpanzees, and a new book, “Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall,” is filled with vibrant photos and stories of her life and her important discoveries.
Several other kids’ books have been published about Goodall because of her work in primatology, which is the study of mammals such as apes and monkeys. But “Untamed’s” author, Anita Silvey, wanted to write this book because it covers the 81-year-old scientist’s career up through the present.
The book begins with Goodall’s childhood in England, where she was a keen observer of her many pets and of other local animals. She loved being in nature and reading such books as “The Story of Doctor Dolittle,” which is about a veterinarian who travels to Africa and learns to communicate with animals.
When she was in her early 20s, Goodall got an invitation from a school friend to visit Africa. Once she was in Africa, Goodall quickly got herself a job with Louis Leakey, a famous scientist who was studying humans’ early development. He encouraged her and helped her study chimpanzees in the wild.
At the Gombe Stream Game Reserve (now a national park) in Tanzania, Goodall transformed the scientific research of animals. Silvey says Goodall “focused on chimpanzees as individuals, with distinct personalities. At the time, the scientific community recorded animals as numbers – she insisted that every individual chimp mattered and every one was unique.”
The book’s wonderful photographs, including four pages of a chimpanzee “family scrapbook,” provide a sense of the animals’ distinct personalities and also reveal the trusting relationships Goodall developed with many of the chimps she studied.
“It’s not that everyone can have Jane Goodall’s story,” Silvey says. “But her story tells kids that if you love something, if you really want something, you can have an impact on the world.”