The Watcher
by Jeanette Winter

Price at time of review: $17.99
Random House
New York, NY
ISBN: 9780375867743

Grade Level: K-2

Reviewed by CBC Reviewer

It's rare to find a good biography of a famous scientist that includes so much detail on the practices of science and yet is understandable and appealing to primary students. This NSTA/CBC Outstanding Trade Book fills that bill. It's a book that can provide not only a shared experience for a class but might inspire many individual science projects watching animals closer to home.

As a child, Jane Goodall watched chickens and robins. She read books about animals farther away and dreamed of traveling to those far–off places to observe the animals there. Young readers will easily relate to Jane's first night in Gombe, as she lay listening to the sounds of crickets, hyenas, and owls. They may even try to emulate a bit of her patience during the many years that she sat observing chimpanzee behavior.

The book ends with the story of habitat destruction and efforts to safe chimpanzees in the wild. That makes it a good bridge to classroom discussions about local habitat preservation. An appendix provides more information for the teacher or mentor who shares the book with young children. It can be read aloud to students of any age, and read independently by students from grade 2 onward.

Review posted on 1/20/2012

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