While the weather forecasts may be debatable, this almanac still features beautiful essays by the author and some useful...

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Poor Will's Almanack for 2017

A GUIDE TO LIVING IN HARMONY WITH THE EARTH

An annual almanac attempts to predict weather-related phenomena based on patterns observed in previous years.

The almanac begins with an introduction giving a brief overview of the information provided in the monthly sections. Felker (Poor Will’s Almanack 2015, 2014, etc.) also explains the dominical forecast, which is a method from the Middle Ages based on the date on which the first Sunday of a year occurs; for 2017, readers can apparently expect “great conflict and fighting among robbers and new tidings of kings.” An overview of what the author calls “the Forty-Eight Seasons” follows, in which he breaks each season into smaller parts and describes what happens at those times. Each monthly section begins with a quote followed by a brief essay by Felker and then various astronomical and predictive details. First he presents information about the states of the moon, planets, and stars during the month and a list of holidays. Next appears a S.A.D. Stress Index. This index “is one way of measuring those natural phenomena which are assumed to be related to seasonal affective disorder (S.A.D.): the day’s length, the probable percentage of sunlight, and the weather.” Then the author offers a discussion of when to best perform gardening and animal husbandry tasks; a list of cold fronts and related weather events; and a reader-submitted story. Finally, Felker delivers a brief autobiography. The author’s pseudo-scientific explanation of the moon’s effect on weather and animals is somewhat dubious, and the dominical forecast is downright astrological. Of more value are his descriptions of the seasons and when to expect which natural events; his gardening advice should also prove helpful. Felker’s essays verge on poetry, and his reader stories are amusingly nostalgic. And his names for various moons throughout the months—such as the Robin Chorus moon and the Sweet Corn moon—remain an intriguing way to tie the passing of time to expected events in the natural world.

While the weather forecasts may be debatable, this almanac still features beautiful essays by the author and some useful details about seasonal events and gardening.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4537-8709-0

Page Count: 250

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2016

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

THE INCREDIBLE JOURNEY OF PLANTS

A neurobiologist reveals the interconnectedness of the natural world through stories of plant migration.

In this slim but well-packed book, Mancuso (Plant Science/Univ. of Florence; The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior, 2018, etc.) presents an illuminating and surprisingly lively study of plant life. He smoothly balances expansive historical exploration with recent scientific research through stories of how various plant species are capable of migrating to locations throughout the world by means of air, water, and even via animals. They often continue to thrive in spite of dire obstacles and environments. One example is the response of plants following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Three decades later, the abandoned “Exclusion Zone” is now entirely covered by an enormous assortment of thriving plants. Mancuso also tracks the journeys of several species that might be regarded as invasive. “Why…do we insist on labeling as ‘invasive’ all those plants that, with great success, have managed to occupy new territories?” asks the author. “On a closer look, the invasive plants of today are the native flora of the future, just as the invasive species of the past are a fundamental part of our ecosystem today.” Throughout, Mancuso persuasively articulates why an understanding and appreciation of how nature is interconnected is vital to the future of our planet. “In nature everything is connected,” he writes. “This simple law that humans don’t seem to understand has a corollary: the extinction of a species, besides being a calamity in and of itself, has unforeseeable consequences for the system to which the species belongs.” The book is not without flaws. The loosely imagined watercolor renderings are vague and fail to effectively complement Mancuso’s richly descriptive prose or satisfy readers’ curiosity. Even without actual photos and maps, it would have been beneficial to readers to include more finely detailed plant and map renderings.

An authoritative, engaging study of plant life, accessible to younger readers as well as adults.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63542-991-6

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Other Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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