SLIS Adjunct Writes about the Life of Jane Goodall

September 15, 2015

Anita Silvey

Anita Silvey sees Goodall as an ideal role model for children

SLIS Adjunct Anita Silvey's most recent book, Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, was published by National Geographic this year and has received starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and School Library Journal. Silvey, author of children's non-fiction titles such as I'll Pass for Your Comrade and The Plant Hunters, as well as 500 Great Books for Teens, shares a bit about this unique project. 

What inspired you to write about Jane Goodall? 

Some books are gifts. In the case of Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall, a young editor, Kate Olesin, at National Geographic approached me. They could offer me the extensive photo gallery of National Geographic, as they had funded her early research, and interviews with people who had worked with her. I’d been mesmerized by Jane Goodall at her lectures and fascinated with reading her books. It took less than a nanosecond for me to say “Yes.”

What makes this book important? 

I believe Jane Goodall provides an ideal role model for children. She loved animals and Africa as a child and was resourceful in finding ways to get there and do the work she wanted to do. She has remained true to her vision, an advocate for animal life on this planet. Her work ethic, persistence, idealism, and commitment would inspire anyone – but speak particularly to young readers who are trying to find a path for their own lives.

What was the greatest challenge for writing this book?

Both Jane Goodall, and members of the Jane Goodall Institute staff, reviewed the book in manuscript form and in final pages. It was quite daunting to have the subject of my book comment on my interpretation of her life. But in the end Jane Goodall wrote a wonderful forward, and everyone seems happy. In the future, however, I may go back to dead subjects – a bit easier on the nerves.

What part of the book did you find most rewarding?

Team “Untamed” at National Geographic included a great photo editor and designer who went the extra mile to make the book so visually attractive. I love picking it up, just viewing the pictures. I owe all of this to my editor and her team who created a beautiful book.

Will you be presenting/lecturing on any of the ideas in the book?

My next appearance will be on Saturday, October 3rd, at the Dedham Public Library, at an event sponsored by the Blue Bunny.