In an adventure story for young readers, German author Wolfgang Wambach expands on the link between humans and chimpanzees.
Humans have been paired with chimps in movies, television, and books as far back as I can remember. I’d assume that’s mostly due to the similarities we share with these great apes—how we can see ourselves in them and undeniably realize our link to them, despite also being indoctrinated elsewhere into the idea that humans are in a class of their own.
In Adam the Ape, a new book aimed at young readers, German author Wolfgang Wambach expands on that link, pairing a 13-year-old boy with a chimpanzee who’s escaped a circus, detailing their adventure together as they evade capture, seek answers about themselves, and fight for the rights of animals who live their lives behind cages.
In the story, Adam, a chimpanzee who communicates through sign language, befriends Kenny, a mute 13-year-old who shares the same method of expression. Throughout their escapade, the pair learn about each other and themselves, overcoming fears and accomplishing more than they thought they were able to. It’s a feel-good story that also touches on some important concepts the author brings across to readers, albeit in a non-preachy way.
Animal rights, self-confidence, evolution, circus animal abuse, parent-child relationships, and even weighing difficult decisions are all topics touched upon throughout the 90+ page story—a quick and entertaining read for adults and kids alike. My 11-year-old son also reviewed the book, reading it on his own over the course of two evenings.
He added, “The pictures are beautifully illustrated and the writing is very detailed. Kenny has a tag-along personality and is also a bit gullible. Adam is very courageous, but as everyone does, he has his fears.”
I tend to agree. I’ll also add that Adam’s fears, and his efforts to overcome them with Kenny’s assistance, help to humanize the ape and further drive home the notion that humans and chimps are closely related in more ways than DNA.
At the end of the story, the author has added some extra content that will be of interest to science-loving kids and those who want to learn more about the similarities between apes and humans. He includes a section entitled, “About Great Apes,” as well as one called, “About Evolution.” Like the story itself, these informational pages include illustrations to engage young readers and enhance the learning experience.
Overall, Adam the Ape was thoughtfully written, packed with lessons, and is a wonderful, thought-provoking book for science-loving readers as well as anyone who enjoys adventure. I recommend parents read it as well, as the most meaningful takeaway from the book might be the conversation you have with your child afterward.