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MANY THINGS UNDER A ROCK

THE MYSTERIES OF OCTOPUSES

A heartfelt and enlightening look at one of Earth’s most curious creatures.

A marine biologist dives into the wondrous world of octopuses.

A professor of marine biology at Alaska Pacific University, David Scheel has been studying octopuses for more than 25 years, specializing in animal behavior. “Behavior, in particular,” he writes, “reveals values—what is good and what is bad to an octopus—and hints at an animal’s experiences and intentions.” In his first book, the author shares the fruits of his research, as well as that of other marine biologists, to show us much of what has been learned—and remains to be understood—about these fascinating sea creatures. As the author notes, more than 300 different species of octopuses exist, yet their elusive behavior and the changing nature of their appearance make them difficult to locate, identify, and study. Among the questions the author addresses in this page-turning natural history: How has climate change affected octopuses? How can they be protected from overharvesting? What self-defense tools do they deploy? How do they use their senses to interact with their environment? Do octopuses dream? Do they experience emotions? Perhaps most surprising of all, the author has discovered that “despite their solitary reputation, octopuses like closeness.” Though the author’s research has taken him around the world, his primary focus has been Alaska. In addition to an endless supply of interesting factoids about octopuses and their habitats, the author also shares knowledge and stories from Indigenous cultures regarding the lives of octopuses, many of which inspired him to pursue his work further. “Indigenous science seeks not only to understand,” he writes, “but also to respect people and the natural world.” The author’s passion for octopuses, combined with his accessible language and vivid descriptions of his encounters, creates a memorable book that is sure to appeal to fans of underwater adventures and anyone who enjoyed the film My Octopus Teacher. Laurel Scheel’s simple yet elegant illustrations complement the text.

A heartfelt and enlightening look at one of Earth’s most curious creatures.

Pub Date: June 13, 2023

ISBN: 9781324020691

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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THE ELEPHANTS OF THULA THULA

A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.

The third volume in the Elephant Whisperer series.

In this follow-up to An Elephant in My Kitchen, Malby-Anthony continues her loving portrait of the Thula Thula wildlife reserve, which she co-founded in 1998 with her late husband, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony, who published the first book in the series, The Elephant Whisperer, in 2009. Following his death in 2012, Malby-Anthony sought to honor his legacy by continuing his vision “to create a massive conservancy in Zululand, incorporating our land and other small farms and community land into one great big game park.” At the same time, the elephants gave her “a sense of purpose and direction.” In the Zulu language, thula means quiet, and though the author consistently seeks to provide that calm to her charges, peace and tranquility are not always easy to come by at Thula Thula. In this installment, Malby-Anthony discusses many of the challenges faced by her and her staff, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. These included an aggressive, 2-ton rhino named Thabo; the profound loss felt by all upon the death of their elephant matriarch, Frankie; difficulty obtaining permits and the related risk of having to relocate or cull some of their animals; the fear of looting and fire due to civil unrest in the region; and the ongoing and potentially deadly struggles with poachers. Throughout, the author also shares many warm, lighthearted moments, demonstrating the deep bond felt among the humans and animals at the reserve and the powerful effects of the kindness of strangers. “We are all working in unity for the greater good, for the betterment of Thula Thula and all our wildlife….We are humbled by the generosity and love, both from our guests and friends, and from strangers all around the world,” writes the author. “People’s open-hearted support kept us alive in the darkest times.”

A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781250284259

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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