THE AYE-AYE AND I by Gerald Durrell


A Rescue Mission in Madagascar
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 Another delightful excursion into nature by the always amusing Durrell, who's proving to be as prolific as many of his animal charges (Marrying Off Mother, 1992; The Ark's Anniversary, 1991-- and 23 other titles). Once again, Durrell is off to collect another candidate for his admirable Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust, which builds up breeding colonies of endangered species on the island of Jersey off the English coast. This time, his quarry is one of the strangest and least studied creatures in God's zoo--the elusive aye-aye, a rare lemur found only on Madagascar. To Durrell, it resembles nothing so much as ``a Walt Disney witch's black cat with a touch of E.T. thrown in''; most prominent of its many strange features (which include ``spoonlike ears turning to and fro independently like radar dishes'') is its elongated third finger, much sought-after by village sorcerers as a magic charm. Upon arriving in Madagascar, Durrell spends much of his time sitting on the toilet, a victim of the runs. But he gets around enough to admire the island's exotic markets, language, and women, and to deplore the deforestation that has denuded so much of the landscape and threatens the habitat of many species. Soon enough, as always in a Durrell book, the animals themselves take center stage. In addition to the chief target, Durrell collects endangered flat-tailed tortoises, gentle lemurs, and giant jumping rats the size of cats. He also spies the most elusive of Madagascar creatures, the puma-like Fosa, as well as hammerhead shark, ploughshare tortoises, and dense clouds of houseflies (``the tent poles were black with them, the table top a black moving tablecloth of them''). Finally, after funny tribulations, including an encounter with a native soothsayer, he scores six aye-ayes, now safe and snug and, one hopes, making baby aye-ayes in Jersey. A hearty ``aye'' for this one. (Eight-page color insert--not seen.)

Pub Date: March 10th, 1993
ISBN: 1-55970-204-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Arcade
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 1993


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