Audacious, yes, but not in a good way.

READ REVIEW

UNDAUNTED

THE WILD LIFE OF BIRUTÉ MARY GALDIKAS AND HER FEARLESS QUEST TO SAVE ORANGUTANS

A portrait of primatologist Biruté Mary Galdikas and her long career studying Bornean orangutans.

With a magazine-style format (the pages are crowded with sidebars), the book uplifts the life and work of a lesser-known conservation scientist. Beginning with Galdikas’ childhood in Toronto as the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants, the narrative quickly moves on to her start in primatology. When Silvey dives into Galdikas’ exploits in Indonesian Borneo, the author emphasizes Galdikas’ relentlessness despite constant challenges. Curiously, Galdikas’ controversial rehabilitation program for captive orangutans is depicted in near-hagiographic terms. Most glaring is the book’s white-savior tone, in which Silvey problematically represents Indigenous peoples and Galdikas’ paternalism is thinly veiled. In a profile of Toronto’s High Park, the author describes the city’s Indigenous peoples (who are still very much alive today) in a section labeled “Ancient History.” In a similar vein, Galdikas’ shocking “rule for life” is emblazoned across a photograph of her orangutan center’s brown-skinned staff: “Remember that in camp the orangutans come FIRST, science second, local staff and people third, and we, the foreign researchers, LAST.” A white scientist ranking “locals”—whose homeland she views imperiously as a place where “time had stood still”—so low in her hierarchy is offensive.

Audacious, yes, but not in a good way. (foreword, extended resources, author’s note) (Biography. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4263-3356-9

Page Count: 96

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Pretty but insubstantial.

THE BIG BOOK OF BIRDS

Zommer surveys various bird species from around the world in this oversized (almost 14 inches tall tall) volume.

While exuberantly presented, the information is not uniformly expressed from bird to bird, which in the best cases will lead readers to seek out additional information and in the worst cases will lead to frustration. For example, on spreads that feature multiple species, the birds are not labeled. This happens again later when the author presents facts about eggs: Readers learn about camouflaged eggs, but the specific eggs are not identified, making further study extremely difficult. Other facts are misleading: A spread on “city birds” informs readers that “peregrine falcons nest on skyscrapers in New York City”—but they also nest in other large cities. In a sexist note, a peahen is identified as “unlucky” because she “has drab brown feathers” instead of flashy ones like the peacock’s. Illustrations are colorful and mostly identifiable but stylized; Zommer depicts his birds with both eyes visible at all times, even when the bird is in profile. The primary audience for the book appears to be British, as some spreads focus on European birds over their North American counterparts, such as the mute swan versus the trumpeter swan and the European robin versus the American robin. The backmatter, a seven-word glossary and an index, doesn’t provide readers with much support.

Pretty but insubstantial. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-500-65151-3

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

GET THE SCOOP ON ANIMAL SNOT, SPIT & SLIME!

FROM SNAKE VENOM TO FISH SLIME, 251 COOL FACTS ABOUT MUCUS, SALIVA & MORE

Cusick floats a slick, select gallery of nature’s spitters, nose-pickers, oozers, and slimers—most but not all nonhuman—atop nourishing globs of scientific information.

Title notwithstanding, the book is limited just to mucus and saliva. Following introductory looks at the major components of each, Cusick describes their often similar uses in nature—in swallowing or expelling foreign matter, fighting disease, predation and defense, camouflage, travel, communication (“Aren’t you glad humans use words to communicate?”), home construction, nutrition, and more. All of this is presented in easily digestible observations placed among, and often referring to, color photos of slime-covered goby fish, a giraffe with its tongue up its nose, various drooling animals, including a white infant, and like photogenic subjects. Two simple experiments cater to hands-on types, but any readers who take delight in sentences like “Some fungus beetles eat snail slime mucus” come away both stimulated and informed.

What better way to make natural history slide down easily? (index) (Nonfiction. 8-10)

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63322-115-4

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Moondance/Quarto

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more