A Book of Travel and Natural History
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 Kanze, a self-proclaimed ``naturalist who fancies himself a writer,'' travels to the ``other land down under'' in search of three rare animals--a flightless bird known as the kiwi, a primitive reptile called the tuatara, and an elusive type of New Zealand frog that lacks vocal sacs and eardrums. The author, who lives in the N.Y.C. suburbs, journeys to New Zealand on three separate occasions, and he lays his book out in quasi-diary form with a brief introduction outlining the country's history. New Zealand, he points out, has no native land mammals-- the island-nation became isolated from neighboring continents only 100 million years ago and so mammals never had a chance to evolve. Instead, the country became ``a lost world, a living museum of ancient, less competitive species whose near kin had died out on the continents.'' Kanze explores New Zealand both independently and by joining scientific expeditions to isolated locales, and his prose comes most alive when he is describing the animals he sees: ``The six kaka [parrots] put on a fine show....caterwauling and laughing loudly, swinging from trapeze performers, and hanging by their beaks.'' Far too often, though, his descriptions are bare-boned and flat (``Today I took an exhaustive bus tour....The scenery was lovely''), and he seldom reaches beyond a straightforward reportorial style. Kanze also has a tendency to change tense occasionally without reason. Compelling and informative at times, sketchy at others. (Twenty-six illustrations.)

Pub Date: June 18th, 1992
ISBN: 0-8050-1990-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1992