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Monkey Books

Books about monkeys, apes and gorillas.

The Complete Adventures of Curious George
Sixty years have passed since a curious little chimp in Africa met the man with the big yellow hat and got into the first of many scrapes. Decades later, George is as curious--and naughty--as ever. To celebrate the 60th anniversary of Curious George's debut, this special edition is a collection of seven classic adventures by Margret and H.A. Rey, along with an introduction by critic Leonard Marcus, a retrospective note by publisher Anita Silvey, a history of the Reys by Dee Jones, curator of the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, and a photo album. The many generations of fans of the "good little monkey who was always very curious" will be fascinated to learn how H.A. and Margret escaped on bicycle from German-occupied Paris, with just their winter coats and several picture books (including a draft of Curious George, then called Fifi) strapped to the racks. Photos and essays reveal H.A. to have been a gentle, humorous man, while Margret, by all accounts, was spirited and brutally direct, with a keen business mind. The chemistry between them worked beautifully. Between them, they created one of the most beloved characters in children's literature. This handsome volume includes Curious George, Curious George Takes a Job, Curious George Rides a Bike, Curious George Gets a Medal, Curious George Flies a Kite, Curious George Learns the Alphabet, and Curious George Goes to the Hospital. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (Board Book)
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Good Morning, Gorillas (Magic Tree House #26)
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The New Adventures of Curious George
"This is George. George was a good little monkey and always very curious." Upon hearing these words, generations of children have settled in for a cozy interlude of adventures with their favorite trouble-mongering chimp. Fans of the insatiably inquisitive George will be delighted to find that eight new adventures, written and illustrated in the style of George's creators, have been collected in one big blue book. Each story follows the same pattern; the man with the yellow hat trustingly leaves George alone for just a minute--which is long enough for him to get into a peck of trouble. The lovable monkey tempts disaster and saves the day over and over, first in a chocolate factory, then in an animal shelter, a movie theater, a hot air balloon... but can we blame him? Who hasn't wondered how chocolates get their swirls, or what makes a movie appear on the screen?

Featuring the art of Vipah Interactive, the animators of Curious George CD-ROMs, these stories are every bit as hilariously satisfying as those of the Reys. Curious about George's other escapades? Try The Complete Adventures of Curious George. (Ages 4 to 8) --Emilie Coulter

A Primate's Memoir: A Neuroscientist's Unconventional Life Among the Baboons
Robert Sapolsky, the author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers and other popular books on animal and human behavior, decided early in life to become a primatologist, volunteering at the American Museum of Natural History and badgering his high school principal to let him study Swahili to prepare for travel in Africa. When he set out to conduct fieldwork as a young graduate student, though, Sapolsky found that life among a Kenyan baboon troop was markedly different from his earlier bookish studies. Among other things, he confesses, he had to become a master of shooting anesthetic darts into his subjects with a blowgun to take blood samples, a mastery that required him to become "a leering slinky silent quicksilver baboon terror." He also had to learn how to negotiate the complexities of baboon politics, endure the difficulties of life in the bush, and subsist on cases of canned mackerel and beans.

His memoir is, in the main, quite humorous, although Sapolsky flings a few darts along the way at the late activist Dian Fossey--who, he hints, may have indirectly caused the deaths of her beloved mountain gorillas by her unstable, irrational dealings with local people--and at local bureaucrats whose interests did not often coincide with those of Sapolsky's wild charges. It is also full of good information on primates and primatology, a subject whose practitioners, it seems, are constantly fighting to save species and ecosystems. "Every primatologist I know is losing that battle," he writes. "They make me think of someone whose unlikely job would be to collect snowflakes, to rush into a warm room and observe the unique pattern under a microscope before it melts and is never seen again." --Gregory McNamee

Jane Goodall : 40 Years at Gombe
Jane Goodall is the most famous primatologist, possibly the most famous field biologist, of the 20th century. Her chimpanzee research did more to increase human knowledge of the lives of our closest relatives than that of any other scientist. It's in large part due to her example that primatology is the closest thing to a female-dominated science.

But in 1986 Goodall gave up fieldwork for a higher, more pressing calling: rescuing chimpanzees from inhumane conditions in captivity and preserving the species from extinction. Jane Goodall: 40 Years at Gombe is a pictorial tribute to her life, her studies of the chimpanzees, and her unflagging efforts to motivate human beings on their behalf.

"Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference." Goodall began her research by giving the chimpanzees names, by observing them as nonhuman individuals. Her activism is directed toward the human individuals: scientists who use apes in research, Africans who live near wild apes, children in Africa and in the industrialized world who can learn to value other creatures for themselves. Goodall says of this last project that "I think Roots & Shoots is probably the reason I came into the world. Yet I couldn't have done it without all those years with the chimpanzees and an understanding that led to a blurring of the line between 'man' and 'beasts.'" --Mary Ellen Curtin

World Atlas of Great Apes and their Conservation
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Summer of the Monkeys
Jay Berry Lee is happy until the summer he is 14 years old and discovers monkeys living in the creek bottoms near his parents' homestead. Set in the late 1800s, Summer of the Monkeys traces the boy's adventures as he attempts to capture 29 monkeys that have (it turns out) escaped from the circus. With somewhat dubious help from his grandfather, and over the objections of his mother, Jay goes about discovering that monkeys are much smarter and harder to catch than he thought possible. Woven into this story is a second theme about his physically disabled sister and the family's attempts to find money for an operation. As funny and touching as Wilson Rawls's Where the Red Fern Grows, this book will appeal to the young reader who has always wished for the freedom to run wild through the woods with nothing more pressing to do than find another rabbit hole--or escaped monkey. (Ages 12 and older) --Richard Farr

Folk Physics for Apes: The Chimpanzees Theory of How the World Works (Psychology)
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Chimpanzee Politics : Power and Sex among Apes
The great apes, like humans, can recognize themselves in mirrors. They communicate by sound and gesture, form bands along what can only be called political lines, and sometimes engage in what is very clearly organized warfare. (Less frequently, too, they practice cannibalism.) In Chimpanzee Politics Frans de Waal, a longtime student of simian behavior, analyzes the behavior of a captive tribe of chimpanzees, comparing its actions with those of ape societies in the wild. What he finds is often not pleasant: chimps seem capable of astonishing deviousness and savagery, which has obvious implications for the behavior their human cousins sometimes exhibit.

Among Orangutans : Red Apes and the Rise of Human Culture,
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Gorilla Doctors:Saving Endangered Great Apes (Scientists in the Field Series)
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Next of Kin: My Conversations with Chimpanzees
For three decades, primatologist Roger Fouts has been involved in language studies of the chimpanzee, the animal most closely related to human beings. Among his subjects was the renowned Washoe, who was "endowed with a powerful need to learn and communicate," and who developed an extraordinary vocabulary in American sign language. Another chimpanzee, Fouts writes, "never made a grammatical error," which turned a whole school of linguistic theory upside down. While reporting these successes, Fouts also notes that chimpanzees are regularly abused in laboratory settings and that in the wild their number has fallen from 5,000,000 to fewer than 175,000 in the last century.

Reflections of Eden : My Years with the Orangutans of Borneo
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Gorillas in the Mist
In 1963, an occupational therapist from Kentucky, in uncertain health and spirits, traveled to central Africa in the quixotic hope of seeing a mountain gorilla in its natural habitat. Dian Fossey had read everything she could about the reclusive and much-feared animal, and she returned from her trip convinced that most of the books were wrong.

During her seven-week stay in Africa, Fossey had a chance encounter with the famed primatologists Mary and Louis Leakey, who encouraged her to follow her dream of living among the mountain gorillas and learning their ways. In 1967 she did just that, setting up a camp on the slopes of the 14,000-foot Virunga Volcanoes of Rwanda and studying four gorilla families there. Although it took them some time to accept Fossey's presence among them, she was immediately impressed by their peaceful nature and by their generous, guileless behavior--so unlike the images found in popular culture.

But, Fossey discovered, despite their peaceable way of life, the gorillas had many enemies in the form of poachers who hunted them for their hands, skins, and heads--ghastly remains sold to the tourist market. Much of Fossey's thoughtful but often rightly angry memoir Gorillas in the Mist is a well-reasoned plea for the protection of the gorillas and the suppression of the poachers' black market. That argument found a wide audience when her book was published in 1983, but Fossey's work remains unfinished: she was murdered, probably by those very poachers, in 1985, and today there are fewer than 650 mountain gorillas in the wild. To read Gorillas in the Mist is a first step for anyone concerned with their preservation, and that of other wild species everywhere. --Gregory McNamee

Monkeys Are Made of Chocolate: Exotic and Unseen Costa Rica
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Primate Adaptation and Evolution, Second Edition
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The Chimpanzee Family Book (The Animal Family Series)
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Bigfoot! : The True Story of Apes in America
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Primate Ecology and Social Structure, Vol. 2: New World Monkeys, Second Edition
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Great Ape Odyssey
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In Praise of Primates (0 ed) (15256)
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My Family Album: Thirty Years of Primate Photography
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Reaching into Thought: The Minds of the Great Apes
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Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape
For Frans de Waal, man is not the only moral entity, as he made clear in his last book--Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals. The author has long been intrigued by chimpanzee politics and mores, and now he has turned his human heart and scientific mind to a species science has tended to celebrate solely for its sex drive. Bonobos may look like chimps, but they are actually even closer to us--far more upright, physically, for a start. Furthermore, where chimpanzees hunt, fight, and politic like mad, bonobos are peaceful, often ambisexual, and matriarchal. (Of course, hyenas are matriarchal too, but that's another story ...) De Waal's collaborator, Frans Lanting, has been photographing these gentle creatures for some years and augments the primatologist's explorations and interviews with hundreds of superb color shots. The penultimate picture is of bonobos crossing a road while schoolchildren stand watching, a short distance away. If, as the truism goes, all books about animal behavior are ultimately about us, this exploration of the bonobo may be a step in the right direction.

Chimpanzees I Love : Saving Their World And Ours (Byron Preiss Book)
Jane Goodall might be a household name for most grownups, thanks to her pioneering work with chimpanzees and more recent efforts at habitat preservation. But many kids don't know the Goodall story and will love this chance to hit the ground in Tanzania and learn about the remarkable scientist and her beloved chimp friends. With dozens of vintage photographs, Goodall recounts her early research in Gombe National Park, including a recap of her childhood and how she came to know Louis Leakey and first enter the bush. With clear and careful prose, Goodall explains her findings about chimp communities and communication, the role of hierarchies, and what sort of threats chimpanzees face today. Best of all, Goodall's account always keeps curious young readers in mind, even relating some of her mistakes, such as when she became too close to her subjects and interfered with her own research.

Young protoscientists will appreciate Goodall's frank descriptions, from kerosene-can-assisted dominance displays to her discovery that chimps engage in hunting and warlike behaviors, and hopefully, such detail will inspire further interest in the future of chimpanzees and other threatened species. Proceeds from the book will go to Roots & Shoots, a "grassroots environmental and humanitarian education program for young people" under the Jane Goodall Institute. Because "hundreds of roots and shoots--young people like you--around the globe can break through and make the world a better place for all living things." (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

The Red Ape: Orangutans and Human Origins
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Great Apes and Humans: The Ethics of Coexistence
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The Orangutans
Chimpanzees might be more like us genetically, but a close look at The Orangutans shows that our Asian cousins seem much more human. That look has been thoughtfully provided by Australian primatologists Gisela Kaplan and Lesley J. Rogers of the University of New England in New South Wales. Their book, based on their work in Sumatra and Borneo, the last wild habitats of the orangutan, is captivating, and it provides new insight into the past, present, and clouded future of orangutans. With sections on evolutionary speculation, behavioral observation, and a plea for assistance for their continued survival, the book makes a compelling case for our interest, based in both scientific and humanitarian concerns. Profuse illustrations show these apes at all ages and splendidly demonstrate their diversity; unlike most other animals, not all orangutans look alike to us. The writing is tight and at times urgent, with the burden of near-extinction always close to the surface of the authors' concern for the apes. Vivid expression of such emotions as depression and curiosity, coupled with a sometimes disturbing facial resemblance to us, makes orangutans difficult to ignore. Unfortunately, the rapid destruction of their rain-forest home may squeeze them out of existence before we can act to save them. Whether the 20,000 or so left will be enough to breed into the next century is still a mystery; we must hope that The Orangutans will never have to stand in for more direct knowledge. --Rob Lightner


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