Welcome to the Unforgotten Blog Tour!
To celebrate the release of Unforgotten: The Wild Life of Dian Fossey and Her Relentless Quest to Save Mountain Gorillas by Anita Silvey on June 29th, blogs across the web are featuring original content from Anita, as well as 5 chances to win the complete trilogy: Unforgotten, Untamed, and Undaunted.
Why Did I Write about the Trimates?
by Anita Silvey
If you have been in the children’s book world long enough, every now and then a small miracle happens. Such was the case when a few years back, Kate Hale, an editor for National Geographic Kids, called to talk to me. After having read The Plant Hunters, she wanted to know what I was thinking about for my next book. And even better, she had a suggestion. Jane Goodall would be turning 80 in a couple of years, and no full biography of her existed for children – one that presented an account of the last thirty years of her work. Because National Geographic had funded her chimpanzee research, they had access to a trove of full-color images. Would I be interested in writing a biography of Jane Goodall for them?
Of course, any sentient nonfiction writer would have said “Yes.” Even more important, I thought I knew something about Jane Goodall. I’d been on the staff at Houghton Mifflin when the company had published her books, heard her lecture, and known her editor. Spending only a short time on the proposal that was accepted, I began the next stage of writing. That was when I realized that I basically knew nothing about Jane Goodall.
As I got to understand her – and nothing, absolutely nothing for me beats the joys of research — I also became acquainted with the other two members of The Trimates, or “Ape Ladies,” the protegees of anthropologist Louis Leakey: Biruté Galdikas who studied orangutans, and Dian Fossey, who searched the mountains of Rwanda for gorillas.
All three of these women provide wonderful role models for children. They passionately wanted to learn about animals in the wild. They were true believers, devoting every bit of their being to their cause. They had no cynicism and held nothing back. And each would not only change the way the world looked at our closest cousins, who share 97-99% of our DNA, but they would create viable, ongoing programs that have helped save these species from extinction.
Slowly I began to believe that all three of the Trimates needed their own volume. My editor Kate agreed, and I have spent the last seven years researching, thinking about, and writing about these three women.
In the books, I convey the fears and difficulties of working in such inhospitable conditions, mourn their setbacks, discuss the constant pressure each faced to keep their work productive and funded, and in the end celebrate their accomplishments.
Then after my manuscripts were finished, National Geographic worked their magic. Each of the books can simply be savored for their glorious pictures. So many thoughtful details – information on plants in the area, maps, a timeline, available sources, a portrait gallery – round out each book.
Getting a chance to write these books was one of the greatest gifts of my long, fifty-plus years in children’s books. In the end, if just a few readers read them and think they would like to study animals – and preserve them – then my goal will have been accomplished. And I hope many others come away admiring Jane Goodall, Biruté Galdikas, and Dian Fossey as much as I did.
Young readers need heroines, and heroes and this trilogy about The Trimates provides insights into three amazing women.
Explore the fascinating life and legacy of groundbreaking primatologist and conservationist Dian Fossey, who made it her life’s mission to study and protect mountain gorillas, in this powerful biography from award-winning author Anita Silvey.
In 1963, young American Dian Fossey spent all her savings and took out a loan to realize her dream–to go to Africa. It soon became her life’s mission to study and protect the few mountain gorillas left on Earth. Fossey had no experience or formal scientific training, but she was smart, passionate, and strong-willed–and she just happened to meet paleoanthropologist Louis Leakey, who helped her pursue her goal of studying animals in the wild. Fossey set up a research camp and threw herself into tracking and observing mountain gorillas. Over the next 18 years, Fossey got closer to gorillas than any human ever had before. As she learned to mimic their behavior and became accepted by them, Fossey’s studies grew into a labor of love and a mission to protect her beloved gorillas from poachers and other threats–no matter what the cost.
Sadly, Fossey was murdered at her camp in 1985, and to this day, her death remains a mystery. But her legacy lives on through the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund: In 1973 Fossey recorded only 275 gorillas living in Volcanoes National Park; there are about twice that many today. Fossey’s story is one of tragedy, but also passion, science, and preservation. As Jane Goodall, once said, “If Dian had not been there, there might be no mountain gorillas in Rwanda today.” Unforgotten is the dramatic conclusion to Silvey’s trilogy of biographies on Leakey’s “Trimates.” With unparalleled storytelling, sidebars, maps, and an award-winning design, Unforgotten will inspire the next generation of budding scientists and conservationists.
About the Author: As the author of 100 Best Books for Children, 500 Great Books for Teens, and Everything I Need to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, ANITA SILVEY has devoted more than 50 years of her career to championing books that turns casual readers into lifelong book lovers. Books in this National Geographic series are Undaunted: The Wild Life of Biruté Mary Galdikas and Her Fearless Quest to Save Orangutans and Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall. Recent books include Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger. Silvey has been a guest on NPR, The Today Show, 60 Minutes, and various radio programs to talk about the best books for young people. In a unique career in the children’s book field, Silvey has divided her time equally between publishing, evaluating children’s books, and writing. Her lifelong conviction that “only the very best of anything can be good enough for the young” forms the cornerstone of her work. Formerly publisher of children’s books for Houghton Mifflin Company and editor in chief of The Horn Book magazine, she currently teaches modern book publishing, Modern Book Publishing, and the History of Children’s Book Publishing at Simmons University.
- One winner will receive the complete trilogy: Unforgotten, Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, and Undaunted: The Wild Life of Biruté Mary Galdikas and Her Fearless Quest to Save Orangutans
- Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win
- US/Canada only
- Ends 11:59pm ET on 7/25
Unforgotten Blog Tour
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