by Martin Jenkins. Illustrated by Vicky White. (Candlewick, 2007. ISBN 9780763634711. Order Info.) Nonfiction. 45 pages. Grades 1-12.
White's illustrations are a loving tribute to the four non-human species of great apes: chimpanzees, orangutans, bonobos and gorillas. On each spread a single individual is rendered in color with transparent washes over the drawing while the rest of the individuals and the background are left as rougher cross hatch drawings.
The technique helps to create an arresting focus on each ape, especially their faces, which is furthered by White's attention to detail. This would be a heartfelt addition to any unit on apes, primates, mammals or animals even though the amount of information provided on each species is quite limited. I also think this book is a nice source of inspiration for any drawing project -- especially when introducing the technique of cross-hatching.
A world map on the last page showing the population size and distribution of each animal is a nice tie-in to wildlife protection and geography. Orangutans are found in Borneo and Sumatra in Indonesia. Chimps live across western and central Africa. Bonobos live in the Congo basin and gorillas can be found in central Africa.
There are some earnest comments at the end about the fifth great ape, humans, and their impact on the others as well as current efforts to protect the remaining populations.
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