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It’s hard to say for certain but I feel pretty confident that Dr Seuss would have enjoyed everything about the roly-poly precocious Little Larry. So, it only seems fitting that as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of our most recent National Geographic Kids Book publication — Little Larry Goes to School — we are also celebrating Dr. Seuss’ birthday (March 2) and the annual launch of Read Across America Day*.

Little Larry chimpanzee

Always adventurous and a touch mischievous, Little Larry learning to climb in forest nursery, Mefou Primate Sanctuary, Cameroon

In oh so many way Little Larry would be the perfect Dr. Seuss character. Within this little chimps personality lurks a touch of all the triple traits the good Dr. put in his characters—determination, kindness and creativity—and maybe a bit of playful mischievousness. From the Grinch to Horton to Sam-I-am (Little Larry never would have liked green eggs and ham… he’s definitely a tropical fruit guy) and maybe even a little Lorax hiding in there, after forests are pretty critical to Little Larry’s learning to climb rainforest life.

Filming Little Larry over the past several years has been one of the great delights of my career as a filmmaker and photographer.

Little Larry chimpanzee

Little Larry hanging upside down on branch in an attempt at climbing,… sort of. He lives at Mefou Primate Sanctuary, Cameroon

Bringing him to life for children through this book, with my amazing co-author Mary Rand Hess, always felt like the perfect opportunity to lift his story out of the jungle of Cameroon and into children’s lives.

Over the past several years I have had the great fun of joining classrooms in the Portland Oregon area during National Read Week and Read Across America Day to share the children’s book I have created at GLOBIO. Our books and videos are core to our mission of connecting Species, People, Planet. They are engaging opportunities to connect kids (of every age) to the magic, awe and wonder of wildlife and nature. Little Larry Goes to School is a perfect ambassador to that end. His story is a gentle reminder of the stress wildlife and habitats are under to survive, and the incredible people trying to ensure their survival. I can think of no better way to connect children.

Reading to classrooms of kids is also a great way to see how kids learn to explore and think about the world; insights valuable in our thinking behind many of the learning resources we create at GLOBIO. I also think they have taken some delight in stumping me with great questions. This year is the first opportunity to share Little Larry Goes to School and oh so much that still goes on in his life. The special video segment below gives a taste of this bouncing ball of fun, an ever enthusiastic little chimp.

— Gerry Ellis

 

*Read Across America Day, also known as Dr Seuss Day, is a yearly observance in the USA inaugurated by the NEA (National Education Association). It is held on the school day that is nearest to 2 March, Dr Seuss birthday. Theodor Seuss Geisel was an American artist, book publisher, animator, poet, a political cartoonist as well as an author. He is best known for authoring over 60 children’s book.

 

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