SEASONS ON THE PACIFIC COAST by Susan J. Tweit

SEASONS ON THE PACIFIC COAST

A Naturalist's Notebook

KIRKUS REVIEW

Informative but too-cute essays on the animals, plants, and sea life of the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. NPR commentator Tweit, who lives in the Southwest, gladly admits to being an outsider to the Pacific coast region, “a tourist to this shore.” Small matter, for as a practiced naturalist and careful observer, she’s done her homework very well, turning in careful observations on the life ways of kelp, sea lions, and starfish, among others. Organizing her short essays by season, she takes her readers on a leisurely tour of a 2,000-mile stretch of country, one that gives a strong sense of the wide range of ecosystems that border the Pacific. Regrettably, Tweit cannot resist the urge to be both treacly and preachy. Does any reader of nature books, anywhere, need to be told that “we forget, at our peril, that nature is the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat—it truly is our home—? When she sticks to straight description, however, Tweit is very good, and readers who tiptoe through the minefield of sentimentality can learn quite a lot about such denizens of the cold Pacific as eelgrass, which nourishes the inhabitants of the coast’s tidal marshes, “among the most fertile ecosystems on earth—; sand dollars, echinoderms that suspend themselves in tidewater to feed on tiny organisms; and sea otters, which, Tweit writes, control the population of sea urchins, which in turn, if left unchecked, can “clearcut whole giant kelp groves, their insatiable grazing denuding the once lush forests of the ocean bottom.” (Even so, she adds, abalone fishermen kill otters indiscriminately, holding that otters devour fish that ought rightly to wind up on humans” tables.) Good science meets bad poetry to make a nature book that’s just so-so, but that may be of interest to some beachgoers. (illustrations)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-8118-2080-7
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Chronicle
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1999




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