Games Gorillas Play

"Games Gorillas PLay |"

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Title: Games Gorillas Play
Author: Kathy Darling with Debbie Freed
Zoo pictures by: Brian Ray and Angelo Calcaterra
Category:  Non-fiction
Genre: Children’s
Details: Hardcover, 39 pages
ISBN: 0-8116-4302-6

How did I get this book: I purchased the book at a yard sale

Overview: This story is about 2 young gorillas, Mopie and Hondari, who grew up in the Bronx Zoo, and how they play with their human friend, Debbie.  The book shows various activities and modes of play.

Likes: I like that the pictures in the book show each game that the gorillas played.  It was written very simply, obviously for children.  Any book about gorillas is a plus for me  Have I mentioned that I absolutely love gorillas?!

Dislikes: The story is very simply written, obviously for small children.  I do wish that the author had given a bit more detail about the games they played.  The pictures in the book are black and white. I’d have loved them to be in color.

Overall Impression: When I first spotted the book I thumbed through it, as I do with all book about gorillas.  The condition of the book was very poor with scribbles and torn pages.  Initially, I was going to let this book go until I spotted the name Mopie.

Gorillas, in captivity, are given unique names.  Could this be the Mopie that I first saw and fell in love with at the National Zoo?  He was an adult.  A strong silver-back Lowland Gorilla.  Sure enough, one and the same!  I first saw Mopaya (Mopie) at the National Zoo in D.C. many years ago, when my children were young.  Although it makes me sad to see these magnificent animals in zoos, I was glad to be able to help my children learn about them.  Mopie was unique.  Most gorillas do not like for humans to look them in the eyes. There were signs up all throughout the area, warning that the gorillas would get upset if you were too close and looking at them that way.  It can be taken as a sign of aggression.  But not Mopie.  He would often sit by the glass and interact with zoo visitors.  Although I had loved gorillas for many years, I was very drawn to Mopie and could spend hours in that area.   

Above is a snippet from a video we took during one zoo visit.  I was using the zoom on my camera and was not as close as it seems.  My children, on the other hand, were definitely close.

"Kids with Mopie |"

Now back to the book. Overall, it was very cute and would be great to read with young children (or any gorilla lover).   It will stay on my shelf simply because we loved Mopie.  And as my grandchildren grow, I will help the next generation find their love for these mighty creatures!

And as a plus, I finally found better copy of the book with all pages intact 🙂

May Mopie rest in peace.

"Mopie 03 |"


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Don’t want to purchase a book?  Visit your local library.  It’s a great resource!

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