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SENTIENT BEINGS IN THE KINGDOM OF BHUTAN

An attractive coffee-table album of canine photos with a vibrant and spiritually uplifting setting.

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A photography book celebrates dogs and their cherished status in a Buddhist society.

Chambers, a world traveler, salutes the isolated Himalayan nation of Bhutan for its natural beauty and the “vibrations” imparted to its inhabitants by “the light and teachings of the Buddha.” Chief among these teachings is a reverence for all beings capable of feeling and suffering, especially dogs. The Bhutanese, she writes, believe that canines contain the reincarnated souls of human ancestors; thus, killing even strays is forbidden because it will prevent “that being from living out its Karma.” The book mainly consists of the author’s color photographs of Bhutanese dogs that indeed seem to have it pretty good. They loll happily about, resting on sidewalks, staircases, mountain pathways, and rocky outcroppings—and in gardens and fields and outside temples—lying unconscious on their sides or surveying the world in Sphinx-like postures of alert repose, occasionally allowing a human to pet them. The mutts are a motley black and white and tan, ears pointed or floppy, some of them embodying Buddhist virtues according to the captions. “Attentiveness” is illustrated by a dog with its ear cocked; “trust” by a pooch sleeping peacefully under a car in disregard of the danger of being run over; and “love” by an adorable canine gazing into the camera with golden, liquid eyes. Some photos have other subjects, including karmically underprivileged pack mules and, of course, humans, who appear in a number of portraits featuring Bhutanese laypeople and monks in colorful traditional garments. The images skillfully showcase the variety and grandeur of the Bhutanese terrain, with its majestic snow-capped peaks, wide skies, piney hillsides, and verdant valleys. Chambers’ photos are notable for a slight blurriness and an unusual color palette, with the green of foliage being washed out while throbbing blues dominate in clothing, distant landscapes, shadows, and even black fur. It’s a striking effect that looks almost ultraviolet and gives many of the photos an eerie charge. Her compositions are not the most inspired—just pooches lounging around—but they will look like nirvana to some connoisseurs of canine glory.

An attractive coffee-table album of canine photos with a vibrant and spiritually uplifting setting.

Pub Date: Aug. 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982232-70-2

Page Count: 66

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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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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