Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A memorable encounter

Last weekend my daughter and I were thrilled to attend a talk by Jane Goodall at the Theo Chocolate company in Seattle. She was promoting her new book, Hope for Animals and Their World: How Endangered Species Are Being Rescued from the Brink. This book, co-written with Gail Hudson and Thayne Maynard, outlines remarkable environmental successes as dedicated people around the world work to improve their local habitats and actually revive species that many had given up for lost. It is written for adults but would be accessible to strong readers of younger ages.

Dr. Goodall, who at age 75 travels 300 days of the year spreading awareness about conservation, gave an inspirational talk and then patiently signed books and chatted with her large crowd of admirers. She spoke about the organization she founded for children, Roots & Shoots, which allows young people around the world to actually make a positive difference in their communities.

What particularly tickled me was her emphasis on the impact books had on her as a child. She grew up in the age before television and the Dr. Dolittle books by Hugh Lofting and the Tarzan series by Edgar Rice Burroughs filled her with a desire to one day go to Africa and write books.

While the Lofting books may seem dated in some respects to modern readers, I remember as a child being similarly excited by the world of adventure they promised! Every time Dr. Dolittle closed his eyes and stuck a pin in a map of the world in order to determine his next destination, I felt a thrill! To this day I would love to plan my next holiday in that manner, but haven't quite had the nerve...

If you, like Dr. Goodall, are an adventurous animal lover, I would recommend the following:

  • The Chimpanzee Family Book by Jane Goodall
  • The Chimpanzees I Love: Saving Their World and Ours by Jane Goodall
  • Light Shining Through the Mist: A Photobiography of Dian Fossey by Tom L. Matthews
  • The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans by Sy Montgomery
  • Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery
  • The Case of the Monkeys That Fell from the Trees by Susan E. Quinlan
  • The Case of the Mummified Pigs by Susan E. Quinlan
Happy reading!

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