Review Blog

Mar 21 2011

The chimpanzee book: Apes like us by Dr Carla Litchfield

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Black dog books, 2009. ISBN 978 1742030746.
Non fiction, Recommended. Dr Carla Litchfield, an animal behaviour scientist with ZoosSA, has written another children's book for black dog books, this time about the chimpanzee, giving a huge amount of information within a few pages, underscoring the need for people to be aware of the need for conservation, and entertaining the reader along the way.
Like the series, Wild Planet, published by this company, Apes like us has double page spreads of information with maps, short paragraphs of facts and lots of clear, explicit photographs, telling us about the difference between chimps and bonobos, behaviour, culture, habitat, as well as a large map to show us where they live. Some fascinating pieces of information are given in these pages: they are omnivore, eating mainly fruit but also monkeys and small animals, baby chimps stay with mum for eight years or so, they use tools, and so on. After these introductory pages, double page spreads are devoted to specific communities of chimps like those who live in Gombe (made famous by Dr Jane Goodall) or Bossou (where the chimps have learnt to cross a busy road) and Tai to name a few. Each page outlines where this group lives and marks out its differences to other groups.
Reading like a story, the information is at once fascinating and unsettling as we come to the pages where we learn of their habitat destruction. Of the million or so chimps once living in central Africa, some 300,000 remain. Dr Litchfield ends the book with suggestions about how the reader can help save these animals, and with its brief but useful index, content information and web sites, makes this a wonderful book for use n the classroom.
Dr Litchfield's book, Saving pandas is inspirational, and so is this. In this Year of the Forests, this would make a stimulating addition to the work done by classes on conservation, as the destruction of the forests is one of the major issues outlined by Dr Litchfield.
Fran Knight

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