Chimp Math

Learning about Time from a Baby Chimpanzee



By Ann Nagda and Cindy Bickel

Late one night, a tiny chimpanzee is born at a zoo in Kansas.  He seems very weak, and the staff is worried.  Will he survive?  When his mother shows no interest in her baby, a doctor for human babies comes in to care for the little chimp.  The baby grows strong and healthy, and soon he is big enough to be moved to the Denver Zoo.

Jiggs is a lot like human babies.  He wears diapers. He plays with his toys.  He loves his pets.  And he learns all kinds of new skills as he gets older. Follow Jiggs as he grows from a wobbly infant to a wild and wonderful toddler.  Along the way you can learn about clocks, calendars, time lines, and other ways of keeping time records.

Cindy Bickel has worked at the Denver Zoo for over thirty years.  During her career, she has hand raised hundreds of babies for the zoo, using math every day in her job as a veterinary assistant.

Publisher: Henry Holt & Co., 2002



"Nagda and Bickel integrate the elementary-level mathematical skills of telling and representing time with the story of an adorable chimp, Jiggs, and his remarkable capacity of emotion and learning.  As in their previous collaboration, Tiger Math, the authors present mathematical concepts on the left-hand pages of every double-page spread while the narrative is found on the right-hand side.  Jiggs, born too small in a Kansas Zoo and ignored by his mother, required constant care to survive.  Much of this was provided by veterinary assistant Cindy Bickel, who cared for Jiggs at the Denver Zoo and in her home.  Jiggs's growth and feeding are shown through representation of time: timelines, graphs of variables over time, calendars, and daily charts. . . It's hard not to be amazed by the similarities between chimpanzee and human babies, especially when a baby jaguar, Giorgio, arrives, and Jiggs acts the big brother.  He removes electrical cords from Giorgio's reach, cuddles him when he cries at night, and feeds him a bottle.  While the story is engaging, a major asset of the book is the quantitative information linked to each facing narrative page, which assists readers in understanding the value of mathematics to better understand changes in Jiggs over time."

 --Horn Book Magazine


"Nagda has done it once again, combining multiple disciplines and teaching in a non-threatening, as-you-need-it manner.  Great for a future Jane Goodall and a wonderful teaching tool for elementary teachers."

 --Kirkus Reviews


"The time lines, in particular, illuminate the narrative and can lead to classroom projects.  Youngsters will smile all the way through this engaging story that has many practical applications as well."

 --School Library Journal