Books by Robert M. McClung

Released: July 15, 1997

McClung (Old Bet and the Start of the American Circus, 1993, etc.) offers a sweeping historical view of wildlife from the time of the emergence of the first humans to the present, with brief profiles of animals from all the continents and discussions of 62 large endangered animals. He concludes with a plea for wise stewardship of Earth. As with many attempts to compress coverage of billions of years into relatively few pages, there are some oversimplifications that lead to questionable statements. It's not certain, for example, that ``Cro-Magnon man worshipped the wild creatures that he depended on for food.'' The tone can be shrill, with repeated references to human arrogance and ``the cycle of human greed and illegal overkill,'' and the terminology (including the old-fashioned designation of ``primitive'' and ``advanced'' societies) and conclusions seem dated. A selected bibliography is provided, but quotes in the text appear without footnotes, making it difficult to determine the source of statements. (maps, index, not seen, b&w illustrations, bibliography) (Nonfiction. 12+) Read full book review >
Released: March 16, 1993

Even before Barnum, there was Bailey: Hackaliah Bailey, an entrepreneur who, in 1808, purchased an elephant from a sea captain and took her back to his farm in Somers, New York, where he housed her in his barn, exhibited her to neighbors, and then took her on the road. In time, he added other animals to create ``Bailey's Traveling Show and Menagerie,'' which toured New York and New England, included clowns and acrobats, and was displayed in ``the first circus tent.'' McClung's engaging fictionalization is interesting as much for the Early American logistics of keeping an elephant as for the events, which are pleasantly enlivened by the presence of Hack's young nephew. Kelly achieves an appropriately old-time flavor with energetic illustrations whose cheerful characterizations and careful definition of forms recall the Petershams. (Young reader/Picture book. 5-10) Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 14, 1991

In 1796, an enterprising American sea captain brought a two- year-old Indian elephant to America, where she delighted crowds from Boston to Savannah. In his fictionalized account, McClung provides a young Indian keeper and the captain's son to accompany ``Kandi'' on the voyage (although he doesn't say which characters are real). The narrative here is not exceptional, but the events themselves—especially the details of transporting an elephant in a sailing ship—are of interest, while the story as a whole makes a fine showcase for a smattering of social history, concluding with President Washington meeting Kandi in the US capital: Philadelphia. Janovitz makes an excellent debut, incorporating authentic detail in her colorful illustrations, the lively characters escaping from their well-organized frames. An attractive choice for young readers. (Nonfiction. 5-10) Read full book review >