Untamed, The Wild Life of Jane Goodall – Book Recommendation

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As regular readers of my blog know, one of my passions is the conservation of our planet and all its species, and today’s post returns to that theme. There is only one of my childhood heroes that followed me into adulthood and has remained a woman for whom I have deep personal admiration, and that is Jane Goodall. I think my fascination for her work and how her studies enlighten our understanding of human behavior, influenced my choice of anthropology as my major and who knows, subconsciously influenced my choice to spend time working in several African nations. I had the deep privilege of hearing her speak at BAM in Brooklyn earlier this year, and her raleighing call is as loud as ever. I was more than happy to receive a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review.

If we could all learn to observe and understand primate behavior the way Jane Goodall has, the world would be a better place!

janeTitle: UNTAMED, The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Written by: Anita Silvey, foreword by Jane Goodall

Published by: National Geographic Kids, 2015

Themes/Topics: biography, conservation, exploration, peace, Jane Goodall, chimpanzees, primatology

Suitable for ages: 8-14

Received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an unbiased review.


In recent polls, Jane Goodall has been chosen as the most recognized living scientist in the Western world. She became famous because of her ability to observe and connect with chimpanzees.


We are first introduced to the young Jane and her interest in animal life from an early age, from placing earth worms under her pillow aged 18 months, to spending hours watching an egg hatch aged 5. Pursuing her passion and always encouraged by her mother, she went to Gombe as a young woman, where she was fortunate to meet Louis Leakey who took her on as his protégé. Jane studied chimpanzees in their native habitat. Through months and months of observation she discovered things previous field observers hadn’t about chimpanzees intelligence and social habits. She learnt to survive in the African wilderness, going for hours without food and drink. The early years as a young female researcher were very challenging, but she persevered and eventually came to the world’s attention in 1960s via a National Geographic article and television show. As she became better known, she slowly changed her emphasis and since the ’80s, her focus has been more toward conservation and education to ensure her work continues and multiplies. Now in her 80’s she still travels for the majority of the year worldwide to encourage others to to battle for our planet. She has founded three organizations to achieve these goals.

Why I like This Book:

There have been a couple of delightful picture book biographies about Jane Goodall to be published in the past few years, but this book fills a gap for slightly older children (and adults) in offering 96 pages of fascinating facts and illustrations of this extraordinary life of research, passion and empowering of others. This is a tremendous introduction to this famous primatologist and activist, informative, inviting, and inspirational. They layout is eye-catching and easy to follow with good sidebar information that doesn’t break the flow of the main text, great photos, tips from Jane for young people interested in animals, clear back matter,uggested further reading, and even a guide to the types of African plants included as decorative backgrounds on some spreads and an attractive book design that extends to the endpapers.

The message is dynamic and informative and at the same time deeply personal, full of colorful photographs of her childhood and career. Jane Goodall encourages readers to get involved at home and in her organizations. There are things they can do to support conservation wherever they are. Her example to girls and boys of being a self-taught scientist and a lifetime of devotion to her passion is an important one.

Anita Silvey has again demonstrated her skill at creating a very accessible nonfiction text with just enough, and fascinating detail to keep children immersed in this reading experience. National Geographic has excelled in the visual appeal of this biography.

I recommend this as a gift for any nature lover and great addition to schools for any units on conservation, female scientists, primates etc



  • This could be a great mentor text in upper elementary classed for narrative nonfiction.
  • The book contains field notes, maps and suggested further reading including more that twenty books Jane Goodall has herself written.
  • Join Roots and Shoots. It is youth-led community action and learning program and the program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people.


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2 Responses to Untamed, The Wild Life of Jane Goodall – Book Recommendation

  1. What a great woman. I’ll definitely get this for Matthew.

  2. Pingback: Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall | Science Book a Day

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