Dynamic Book Duos: Primates!

Please welcome authors June Smalls and Debra Kempf Shumaker to Dynamic Book Duos– a blog featuring two books that pair together in a meaningful way along with coordinating educational activities to strengthen reading skills. This week’s Dynamic Book Duos pair focuses on primates.


Peculiar Primates: Fun Facts about these Curious Creatures written by Debra Kempf Shumaker and illustrated by Claire Powell focuses on all primates in fun, vibrant, and upbeat text. He Leads: Mountain Gorilla, the Gentle Giant written by June Smalls and illustrated by Yumi Shimokawara is a quieter book that takes the reader on a lyrical journey focusing on the mountain gorilla. Together these books look at primates in different ways opening up discussions about primates, families, similarities and differences between primates (including humans), along with discussions on different writing styles for similar topics.


He is the king. He leads his family, his troop.
His silver back shows his age and experience.
He guides them through thick forests and steep mountains.

The majestic mountain gorillas live in family groups, led by a powerful silverback. Juxtaposing the apes’ awesome strength and surprising gentleness. He Leads tells the story of family loyalty and love. With stunning, lifelike illustrations and facts on each page, this beautiful picture book is a monument to these endangered gentle giants.


All primates climb and breathe in air. They have big brains and hands and hair. But. . . some live alone, some live in groups. One primate has a nose that droops. Peculiar Primates is an adorable picture book with a scientific—and child-friendly—underpinning. With examples of different primates for each description, as well as extensive backmatter explaining the fascinating science behind their behaviors, this bizarre book captures the wonders of our ecosystem.

Educational Activities – click on links below for educator guides

Compare and Contrast Both Books

What ways do both books share the same information about gorillas?

What ways do the books differ?

Additional Lessons and Activities – courtesy of and permission granted by New England Primate Conservancy

Meet the Authors

Credit Yanka Photography

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw is an award-winning nonfiction children’s book author and former elementary special education teacher who is passionate about growing young minds. Suzanne’s first nonfiction picture book, I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks, debuted in April 2019 from Warren Publishing. Her second book Mighty Mahi launched from Doodle and Peck Publishing in March 2022. Suzanne enjoys speaking to schools about writing, leadership, and how kids can make a difference in our world. The proud momma of two grown boys, Suzanne lives in Waterford, MI with her husband and furry writing companion Ziggy. When she’s not dreaming up new writing projects, you can find her kayaking on the lake, hiking the trail, practicing at the yoga studio, or comparing paint swatches at the local Sherwin Williams.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. What a great idea to pair books up as dynamic duos! Both of these are on my TBR list! Congrats on beautiful books and a beautiful blog post celebrating their likenesses and differences!

    1. Thank you Tonnye! I hope you enjoy our books!

    2. Thank you for your kind words. Please check social media on Tuesday, 10-11-22 to find out the winner of the two books!

  2. Perfect pairing! June Smalls’ books are fantastic, and I look forward to sharing Peculiar Primates with my students as well. I think I will also order Freaky, Funky Fish for my school library. Thank you to these two authors, and their fabulous illustrators, for bringing these books to young readers.

    1. Melissa, thank you so much! June’s books are incredible. And I hope you enjoy both Freaky, Funky Fish and Peculiar Primates! I also agree that both of our illustrators did such amazing work! 🙂

    2. As a retired elementary special education teacher I love hearing when books are being shared with students! Thank you for supporting authors. Please check social media on Tuesday, 10-11-22 to find out the winner of the two books!

  3. I love both of these authors! These books absolutely pair well together. <3

    1. Thanks Veronica!

    2. That they do! It was a fun pairing to feature! Please check social media on Tuesday, 10-11-22 to find out the winner of the two books!

  4. I had the honor of hosting June last year with my 3rd graders. She read SHE LEADS and my students were so enthralled with the story. In true 9 year old fashion, they had no shortage of questions to ask…haha! & I’ve also had a sneak peek of PECULIAR PRIMATES…& as the sequel to FREAKY, FUNKY, FISH…it does NOT disappoint! Thank you so much for this engaging blog post…what a great topic and as a teacher it aligns to the standards rather perfectly! Always love a good compare/contrast opportunity!

    1. Thanks so much Molly! I am so grateful for you and your work designing my Teacher Resources!

    2. As a retired elementary special education teacher, I created this blog in the hopes that teachers will find it meaningful and helpful so I am thrilled to read your comment. Please check social media on Tuesday, 10-11-22 to find out the winner of the two books!

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