Intelligent and quietly provocative.

READ REVIEW

MY BACKYARD JUNGLE

THE ADVENTURES OF AN URBAN WILDLIFE LOVER WHO TURNED HIS YARD INTO HABITAT AND LEARNED TO LIVE WITH IT

A naturalist's account of how turning his backyard into a certified wildlife habitat inspired him to explore "the limits of coexistence" more globally.

After he and his family bought their first house, Barilla (Creative Nonfiction and Environmental Writing/Univ. of South Carolina) wanted a way to proclaim that he “had become a stakeholder” in ongoing efforts to maintain animal habitat integrity. So he certified his yard as “wildlife-friendly” with the National Wildlife Federation. In a gesture that declared his new rootedness to place, Barilla planted apple, pear and peach trees in his yard; soon, bees and fruit-raiding birds and squirrels began to converge. He learned that being part of an ecosystem—rather than its overseer—meant finding oneself “jostled and threatened” and one’s “belongings usurped.” At the same time, Barilla also began wondering about urban environments elsewhere in the world and how people could maximize the potential of these environments in a future where “over 70% of the human population [would] live in cities.” To answer this question, he visited urban areas in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, as well as in Brazil and India, where he observed the relationships between humans and other species. Whether as objects of scorn or intense devotion, animals were universally as fascinating to humans as they could be uncomfortable (or even dangerous) to live with. The challenge was to not only learn to respect them and their right to exist alongside humans, but also to help preserve their integrity as “wild animals [and] not household pets.” Barilla’s ultimate message is both simple and powerful: To work toward coexistence means setting aside all notions of species-ism and cultivating an open, ecologically aware mind.

Intelligent and quietly provocative.

Pub Date: April 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-300-18401-3

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Exemplary writing about the world and a welcome gift to readers.

HORIZON

Distinguished natural history writer and explorer Lopez (Outside, 2014, etc.) builds a winning memoir around books, voyages, and biological and anthropological observations.

“Traveling, despite the technological innovations that have brought cultural homogenization to much of the world, helps the curious and attentive itinerant understand how deep the notion goes that one place is never actually like another.” So writes the author, who has made a long career of visiting remote venues such as Antarctica, Greenland, and the lesser known of the Galápagos Islands. From these travels he has extracted truths about the world, such as the fact that places differ as widely as the people who live in them. Even when traveling with scientists from his own culture, Lopez finds differences of perception. On an Arctic island called Skraeling, for instance, he observes that if he and the biologists he is walking with were to encounter a grizzly feeding on a caribou, he would focus on the bear, the scientists on the whole gestalt of bear, caribou, environment; if a native of the place were along, the story would deepen beyond the immediate event, for those who possess Indigenous ways of knowledge, “unlike me…felt no immediate need to resolve it into meaning.” The author’s chapter on talismans—objects taken from his travels, such as “a fist-size piece of raven-black dolerite”—is among the best things he has written. But there are plentiful gems throughout the looping narrative, its episodes constructed from adventures over eight decades: trying to work out a bit of science as a teenager while huddled under the Ponte Vecchio after just having seen Botticelli’s Venus; admiring a swimmer as a septuagenarian while remembering the John Steinbeck whom he’d met as a schoolboy; gazing into the surf over many years’ worth of trips to Cape Foulweather, an Oregon headland named by Capt. James Cook, of whom he writes, achingly, “we no longer seem to be sailing in a time of fixed stars, of accurate chronometers, and of reliable routes.”

Exemplary writing about the world and a welcome gift to readers.

Pub Date: March 20, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-394-58582-6

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 26, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more