Monday, August 15, 2011
Review #105: The Watcher
Gracie (age 11): Oh wow, this book is amazing.
Isaac (age 12): It is called "The Watcher." It's about Jane Goodall.
Elijah (age 5): Her job was to watch the chimpanzees.
Dad: Did you know about Jane Goodall before we read this?
Isaac: I knew that she liked monkeys. But now I know a lot more.
Dad: She's a pretty famous scientist.
Lily (age 8): Then why didn't I know about her?
Dad: Well, now you do.
Gracie: She's amazing. I can't believe that Jane Goodall went out there and studied the chimps and worked to save them. She even got Fever and she wouldn't go home. Jan Goodall is all good.
Lily: When she was a kid, she sat in a hen house.
Gracie: She sat in there for hours and hours watching chickens until they laid eggs. She liked to watch and learn about animals.
Lily: When she grew up, she saved her money to buy a ticket to go to Africa. And she got a job watching monkeys.
Elijah: At first... no chimpanzees for her. They were hiding from her. But she didn't give up, so then she got to see them. One hundred chimps.
Lily: And she named them. One she named David Greybeard.
Isaac: She learned that chimps use tools. Nobody knew that before her.
Elijah: It's not exactly like tools that we use. It was a "stick" tool.
Dad: They don't go buy tools at a store.
Elijah: Noooooo. Because they're just chimpanzees.
Dad: What else did she learn?
Elijah: She learned that chimps eat meat. I thought they only eat bananas. But now I know they also eat plants and meat. She learned they hit each other. And kiss.
Lily: Now I don't want a pet chimpanzee anymore.
Dad: Because you learned that they are endangered?
Lily: But I would still kind of want David Greybeard.
Evangeline (age 3): Lily, if you take a pet monkey, then you don't get a fishy.
Dad: She can only pick one pet?
Lily: Mommy hates monkeys, so it will have to be a fish.
Dad: Now, how old was Jane at the beginning of the book?
Dad: How old was she when the book ended?
Lily: Old enough to have gray hair. Like, "Grammy" old.
Dad: So the author of this book, Jeanette Winter, had a challenge. She had to pick and choose events from out of a whole lifetime and fit them into just 40 pages. If someone else was writing this book, they could have chosen completely different details.
Gracie: There was another person who wrote one.
Dad: That's right, you remember. We got "Me... Jane" from the library a few months ago.
Lily: Yeah, it was about Jane as a kid.
Dad: One author, Patrick McDonnell, chose to focus on Jane's childhood. This author, Jeanette Winter, decided to pick stories from throughout her life. That's the cool thing about writing. A writer is a chooser. Their stories are shaped by both what they say AND what they don't say. It gives even more importance to what is included when we think about how many choices had to be made.
Lily: If both authors picked the same things, they would practically have the same book.
Dad: But can you see how that would be almost impossible? Jeanette Winter is a completely unique person. She's going to be drawn to specific things that interest her.
Isaac: I think her art is awesome. It's full of big patterns... the monkeys' fur... the trees on the hills. I love this style.
Dad: Would you guys like to go out and watch animals?
Elijah: Not animals that are dangerous. Hyenas? No. Lions? No. I would watch dogs. And cats.
Dad: Well, what did Jane start out with when she was 5 years old like you?
Dad: Maybe you could start by watching a chicken.
Elijah: I don't want to. I'll start out with birds. I mean bird birds. Like robins. Then I'll move to chimps. And THEN chickens. And then, even though they are dangerous, I'll do dinosaurs. I'll build something that can go back then, and I can watch dinosaurs.
Dad: Did this book inspire you in any ways?
Isaac: It makes me want to be more patient when I go deer scouting.
Lily: It made me excited to learn more about Jane Goodall. It's kind of like when a commercial makes you want to watch a movie. This book is like a commercial for Jane Goodall's life.
Author/Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Published 2011: Schwartz & Wade Books
Like it? Here it is