First Second Books is one of my favourite publishers of graphic novels, in particular because they seem to like to do a lot of science-themed books. Jim Ottaviani’s book Feynman was one of my favourite graphic novels of the last few years. Perhaps not surprisingly, First Second published Feynman.

The latest from the science graphic novel dynamic duo is Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas, this time with the art by Maris Wicks. And it is certainly up to the incredibly high standards set by Feynman, if not even a little bit better.

What’s it about?

Primates is the story of the long term collaboration of three women scientists — Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas — with their scientific mentor, anthropologist Louis Leakey. But the focus is definitely on the three women rather than on Leakey. It is the story of how they stumbled into science, worked around the establishment, how they shaped and shifted their lives around their passion, about the incredible work they did in primatology with chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans respectively. One of the things I like the most about the book, just like with Feynman, is how the life story of the women is so closely linked to the work they did. But no serious dry scholarly tome, nope, none of that. The book is also very funny, filled with warmth and even a little whimsy.

It’s not hard to imagine a young woman or man reading this book and thinking to themselves, “hey, I’d love to do that too, it sounds so incredibly cool” and starting their own journey into discovery.

This is a wonderful book I recommend without hesitation. Anyone interested in science or the history of science would enjoy it. As I allude to above, I think it would be particularly appropriate for a young person. As with Feynman and other science graphic novels I’ve reviewed in the past, it would fit perfectly in any middle school or high school library as well as any public library of any size. Academic libraries that collect graphic novels should acquire it, particularly any that cover biology or anthropology.

Oh, yeah, and before I forget, the librarian in me needs to mention that a very nice bibliography is included at the end.

As a side note, Ottaviani has still more science biography graphic novels that I’ll be reading and reviewing over the next while. You can see them all on his Amazon page here.

Ottaviani, Jim and Maris Wicks. Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas. New York: First Second, 2013. 133pp. ISBN-13: 978-1596438651

(Primates review copy provided by the publisher.)

Other science graphic novels I have reviewed:

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