Ape – Perfect Picture Book Friday

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APETitle: Ape

Written by: Martin Jenkins

Illustrated by: Vicky White

Published by: Candlewick, 2007

Themes/Topics: five categories of great apes, humans

Suitable for ages: 4-8

Non Fiction, 32 pages


There are five kinds of great apes in the world.
Each of them is different from the others…
but not so very different.
They’re all part of the same family.
Four of them are very rare:
Orangutan, Chimp, Bonobo, Gorilla.
Here they are.


An exploration of the fascinating lives of the great apes, through concise but fun facts and close-up pencil and oil portraits. Learn about chimp-gang fights, of orangutans tree-swinging capabilities, the nap-taking habits of gorillas and the convivial bonobo groups. And then, maybe surprise some children by turning to look in a little more detail at the fifth ape and its similarities to the first four!

Why I like this story:

The author has made this very accessible to even young children by telling just one or two pertinent facts about each group, especially to do with relationships and food (yup, the perennial biggies for us all). The portraits are gorgeous and I would love to have some of these prints hang in in my living room. I was interested to read at the back of the book that Vicky White, the illustrator, had been a zookeeper and had a master’s in natural history illustration. Candlewick paired this team well. Martin Jenkins is a conservation biologist. I love the build up to the more detailed two page spread about the fifth ape that is not rare at all!


  • A map at the back of the book shows the regions where the great apes live. It also suggests three great websites for further research:                                                                 Wildlife Conservation Society www.wcs.org                                                                                     World Wildlife Fund www.wwf.org                                                                                           Conservation International www.conservation.org
  • Older children can make a chart of the similarities and differences between the five groups.
  • Enchanted Learning has a great page of Ape Activities and Quizzes.
  • I would read this alongside the picture book, Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.

Each week a group of bloggers reviews picture books we feel would make great educational reads. To help teachers, caregivers and parents, we have included resources and activities with each of our reviews. A complete list of the thousands of books we have reviewed can be found here on Susanna Leonard Hill’s website.

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20 Responses to Ape – Perfect Picture Book Friday

  1. A very thoughtful review. This would make a great gift book for the holidays. The illustrations really sound beautiful and I like knowing the history about illustrator. Will look this one up. Apes are important in our family. Our grandson was the engineer on the new ape enclosure at the Columbus Zoo. It is quite magnificent and so open for the apes.

  2. The cover looks stunning! And if I know Candlewick, the rest must be! Thanks for sharing – haven’t seen this yet. I like your companion read suggestion too!

  3. Must. Have. This! I loved both of Applegate’s Ivan stories and trust your recommendation that this one is an excellent companion.

  4. Catherine says:

    Matthew will love this. Thanks for sharing, Joanna.

  5. rhythm says:

    I LOVE this book! I keep it in my book bag – it’s a good one to share!!

  6. I learned something new . . .that four types of apes are rare. I never considered that fact. Thanks for sharing this one, Joanna!

  7. Andrea says:

    This book looks and sounds lovely!

  8. This looks like a wonderful book. Thanks for sharing.

  9. Loved Vicky’s work in CAN WE SAVE THE TIGER, so must check this one out as well!

  10. Lovely review Joanna. This bought back memories of our visit to the Orangutan Sanctuary in Sumatra. Boy, those fellas are so big and beautiful.

  11. Erik - TKRB says:

    This sounds great! 😀 The cover illustration is amazing.

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