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Ape
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About the Author

Martin Jenkins, a conservation biologist, has written several nonfiction books for children, including GRANDMA ELEPHANT'S IN CHARGE, THE EMPEROR'S EGG, and CHAMELEONS ARE COOL. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Vicky White worked as a zookeeper for several years beore earning an MA in natural history illustration from London's Royal College of Art. APE is her first picture book.

Reviews

The premise is simple: introduce readers to four of the five members of the great ape family (the fifth member is actually the reader). But in the hands of White, a former zookeeper making her picture book debut, this becomes much more than a garden-variety survey. Working in oil and pencil, White portrays orangutans, chimps, bonobos and gorillas as imposing and playful, brooding and wistful-in other words, as having psychologically complex, fully realized personalities. The pictures are consistently stunning: using bold brushstrokes and theatrical lighting, White compels readers to savor the subtle nuances of browns and black that compose each animal's fur. Jenkins's (The Emperor's Egg) economical, conservation-oriented text ably sets each scene ("Bonobo chatters and hoots and calls to her friends, while feasting on figs high off the ground") while occasional captions add information about the apes' habitat or behavior. But this book isn't really about reportage; in fact, the portraits are set against white sweeps with only minimal propping to suggest the environment. What seems to matter for White is making an intense emotional connection between subject and reader. And she succeeds-the great apes have found their John Singer Sargent. Ages 3-7. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

K-Gr 3-Jenkins avoids anthropomorphizing in this simple introduction to four rare apes-chimps, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas-and provides basic facts about their daily eating and sleeping habits. The highly textured and naturalistic pencil and oil illustrations deftly blend subtle color and back-and-white scenes and are made for group sharing. However, the book suffers from the use of too many fonts of varying sizes without logical reason, from a bold 1 inch to a very small cursive. The book concludes by comparing humans to the four others and explains the negative impact that we've had on their survival. A final map that shows where the great apes live and how many survive provides needed context for young readers. A 10-item index makes this book marginally useful for reports; students will need to use the Web addresses of three conservation organizations as a starting place to learn more.-Ellen Fader, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

What seems to matter for White is making an intense emotional connection between subject and reader. And she succeeds--the great apes have found their John Singer Sargent.
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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