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The Education of Koko by Francine Patterson
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The Education of Koko

by Francine Patterson, Eugene Linden (Author)

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THE EDUCATION OF KOKO by Francine Patterson and Eugene Linden is nonfiction about a gorilla named Koko who was raised to speak by sign language. The book is full of interesting facts and great pictures, but it was a disappointment. I expected that it would be Koko's and the authors' story. Instead, it is more a discussion of language abilities and a report of their "experiment" to teach language to a nonhuman species.

Please don't be put off if these facts interest you and it doesn't matter to you that this project has a story to tell. It matters to me. So I would have liked to see these facts presented differently.

As it is, THE EDUCATION OF KOKO is not engaging enough to make a reader delight in it. And that's what I thought it would be and so easily could have been. All these details could have been included in the story of the experiment and the growing relationship between Koko and her humans (and her kitty). ( )
  techeditor | Jul 1, 2012 |
This book covers the first nine years of an ongoing language experiment with Koko, a gorilla. It describes how Koko was taught sign language. Her language development and understanding is compared to that of human children, the way she combines words is analyzed and she is continually tested for comprehension. Koko is shown not only using signed words to communicate with her human caretakers and teachers, but also inventing new words to describe things not yet in her vocabulary, and making jokes or practicing deceit. Throughout the entire book its authors address the questions: does Koko really use language? or is she just repeating motions she has been taught, for reward? and what, exactly, defines language? Fascinating book.

From the Dog Ear Diary ( )
  jeane | Jul 15, 2008 |
Koko is the best gorilla ever. This is an interesting book written relatively early on in the experiment that taught a gorilla to communicate with humans and with other gorillas using ASL. It is incredible to get so close to Koko, to read about her thoughts, emotions, her sense of humor. While the subject matter rates at least a "5", the book really drags on in places and repeats itself quite a bit despite the experienced co-author. Still, worth a read for sure. ( )
  ireed110 | Oct 30, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Francine Pattersonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Linden, EugeneAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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