Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Review: Rickie and Henri - a True Story, by Jane Goodall and Alan Marks


Rickie the chimpanzee lived happily with her mother in the rain forests of Central Africa, warm and safe—until the day the hunters came and took Rickie away to sell at a Congolese market. Fortunately, she was rescued by a kind man who adopted Rickie and cared for her. Best of all, he provided an unexpected friend in his dog Henri.

Normally I would be skeptical of a story in which a wild animal, taken from captivity, is 'rescued' by a well-meaning human - but the author's name lends instant credibility!

This story definitely has a frightening beginning - true to the nature of the story, but you'll want to pre-read before deciding how to share it with your child. Initial suggested age rage is 5-7, I would definitely out it at the top of that range. I know Logan (5) would end up with nightmares after reading, while Sheridan (7) would still be concerned and upset. 

In addition to the cruelty of trafficking in wild animals, readers learn how very like human babies many animals are in their basic needs. When Rickie grew too big, she moved to one of Goodall's sanctuaries, and a brief afterward asks for readers' help with those sanctuaries. 

Marks' watercolor illustrations are soft yet vivid. The cover image says it all - Sad-eyed chimp clinging to sturdy, friendly dog (although Henri was not entirely certain about the arrangement at first!)

Due out in May, cover price is just $12 in the US. A worthwhile addition to elementary school libraries or classrooms.

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