The Chimpanzee Book, by Dr Carla Litchfield

Chimps are our closest animal relatives. They belong to the great ape family, along with humans, gorillas and orangutans. There are two species of chimps, called chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). Genetically, chimps are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas.

You only have to look closely at a chimpanzee face to see the similarities to man. But it’s not just in appearance. Chimpanzees have many other human-type characteristics and it seems that the more they are studied, the more similarities emerge. Chimps can use language, they use tools, have an extended childhood and display emotions. They are only found in the mid-section of the African continent. One of the two species, the bonobo is only found in a small part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Scientific researchers like Dr Jane Goodall have spent years studying the behaviour of chimps. Like other titles in this series there is a map showing distribution, and panels showing the size, habitat and predators of both species. These panels also include information about the scientists who have studied chimps.

Fantastic photos of animals (in this case chimps) against white backgrounds and in habitat are a feature of this series. Not everyone can get to Africa to see chimps in the wild and while zoos are wonderful, chimps don’t always sit still enough for a proper look. Here the reader can learn to recognise the differences between chimpanzees and bonobos and discover just how closely they are related. There is information about the scientific studies that continue to discover new aspects to chimp behaviour both in the wild and in captivity. For children who aspire to work with animals or the environment studies, there are demonstrations here as to where these interests can take them. Contents, index, glossary and further resources add to accessibility and possibility. The Chimpanzee Book: Apes Like Us is a landscape paperback and is sure to be a popular addition to any library or home collection. Recommended for lower primary and beyond.

The Chimpanzee Book: Apes Like Us

The Chimpanzee Book: Apes Like Us, Dr Carla Litchfield
Black Dog Books 2009
ISBN: 9781742030746

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author