Visits to 10 types of forest, with portraits of select native wildlife and audio soundscapes.
Though the lineup does include an unusual “Desert Forest” on Yemen’s Socotra Island and locales for the rest of the more-common woody habitats are likewise specified, Hunter’s generic, artificially populous panoramas are neither placed on a map nor presented in any particular order. His wildlife characters, six or seven per spread, pose naturalistically but are sometimes seen from distorted perspectives—a wood mouse in England’s deciduous New Forest looks, for instance, almost as big as the donkey—making it hard to compare relative sizes. Numbered, descriptive captions squeezed in among the figures highlight the animals’ distinctive calls or noises, snatches of which can also be heard on the enclosed sound chip. Pressing hard and repeatedly on a designated spot, one per spread, results in a uselessly brief audio sequence of fragmentary hoots, squeaks, snorts, chirps, and general rustling presented, supposedly, in left-to-right order. Oddly, several of the chosen animals, such as snowshoe hares, okapi, and blue-baboon spiders do not vocalize and so are sonically represented (if at all) only by magnified leaf chewing or some similar contrivance. The sound chip features replaceable batteries but no on/off switch.
Ambitious in concept, pedestrian at best in execution. (Informational novelty. 7-10)