Sunday, July 7, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Orangutans

written by Meish Goldish
2008 (Bearport Publishing)
Source: Orange County Public Library

Check out Nonfiction Monday at Abby the Librarian

I grew up in an age without cable television or the Internet, so my only exposure to orangutans was in a series of Clint Eastwood movies featuring a sidekick orangutan named Clyde. Not exactly high learning. Fortunately, today's children have a much better variety of information. From Bearport Publishing's series titled Smart Animals, Orangutans features these brightly colored apes that live only on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. As mentioned in the title of the series, the big idea for this book is to show readers that orangutans are not only brightly colored, but also very bright in terms of intelligence. Princess, a particularly precocious great ape, used a stick to pick the lock of a storeroom that held food. She was also able to learn 30 signs including signs for tickling and hair combing. Can you imagine being the stylist for an orangutan? "I think your orange hair looks better parted in the middle as opposed to the side." Research on orangutans in the wild is discussed as well. Dr. Birute Galdikas has studied the animals for over 40 years. She learned that young orangutans spend several years with their mothers as they learn how to procure food and build nests. Dr. Galdikas also learned about signals used by orangutans to attract mates and ward off predators. Later research revealed the use of sticks by orangutans to extract honey from bee nests and termites from nests. And I complain about having to go to the grocery store! Other parts of the book deal with emotional intelligence and threats to the habitat of the orangutan.

Orangutans would be a good tool for animal research for students in grades 3 and up. Younger ages could benefit from a read aloud of a particular section and a comparison to another animal like a chimpanzee. The text also lends itself to modeling for writing nonfiction. Main ideas and supporting details abound. Since orangutans are a bit exotic and little understood, having a copy of this book would be a good idea for broadening student animal knowledge.

Here is a link to more information from National Geographic Kids.


  1. Hair stylist for an orangutan? Now there's a new one! As you point out, we don't hear about them as often, this looks like a very interesting book.

  2. I laughed at your description of your exposure to orangutans, Jeff. It does look like an informative book. Also, just wanted to be sure you caught that I'm featuring a baseball (knowing that you like baseball!) book today over at True Tales & A Cherry On Top. I don't know if you've seen the picture book SOMETHING TO PROVE.


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