A splendid addition to an exemplary series.



From the Scientists in the Field series

The writer-and-photographer team who introduced readers to flightless parrots, snow leopards, tree kangaroos and the Goliath bird-eating tarantula turn their attention to the elusive lowland tapir.

Traveling in Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands with biologist Patricia “Pati” Medici and her team, Montgomery and Bishop experience long, hot days, cramped conditions, nervous waiting and itchy tick bites while searching for this solitary, nocturnal animal. There is a satisfying natural structure to this tale of science research in the field, as initial difficulties give way to the team’s most productive expedition ever. In less than a week, they see tapirs in the wild, find their tracks, take photographs, locate them through radio telemetry, collect “samples of tapir poop, skin, fur, and blood,” and capture and collar two new tapirs, with more to come. This research matters, and the author clearly explains why. Chapters about the team’s day-by-day experiences, written in a lively, first-person voice, include memorable detail; interspersed are sections introducing team members, the ranch where they (and a team investigating giant armadillos) are doing their research, a British teen who helped fund an expedition and record-keeping. Clearly labeled photographs of scientists at work, ranch life, tapirs and other animals of this unfamiliar part of the world add to the book’s appeal.

A splendid addition to an exemplary series. (bibliography, websites, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-81548-0

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike.



A compendium of all things oceanic, from surface to depths, covering biology, geology, coasts, climatic phenomena, and human use and abuse.

Considering the size of the general topic, the coverage isn’t as shallow as it might be. Hundreds of crisply professional nature photos and big, easy-to-follow charts and diagrams anchor waves of densely packed but often breezy commentary (“Many parrotfish species also make their own sleeping bags at night—out of mucus!”) that Wilsdon pours in beneath such headers as “It’s a Shore Thing” and “Belize It or Not!” Overviews of each ocean, of plate tectonics, the action and effects of ocean currents, worldwide climate change, and physical features from islands to abyssal plains sail by in succession, but marine biology takes pride of place with page after page of photogenic sea life from tiny krill on up to whales and polar bears. The author profiles a marine ecologist and interviews an oceanographer to cap chapters on modern research, exploration, and industries, then closes with generous lists of sites to visit physically or virtually.

A stimulating plunge for casual browsers and serious students alike. (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4263-2550-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: National Geographic Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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An appealing, elegantly designed introduction to another much-maligned species.


From the Scientists in the Field series

A practiced and proficient team returns to the African plains to visit a field camp in Masai Mara, Kenya, where zoologist Kay Holekamp has been studying spotted hyenas for 30 years.

This surprisingly engaging title introduces a species whose bad reputation is nearly universal. Holekamp disagrees. Her study of eight generations of hyenas has revealed the spotted hyena to be “an unexpectedly brave, smart, and extremely social species” as well as the “most formidable carnivore in Africa.” During their 10-day visit, Montgomery and Bishop go with the researchers for morning and evening observations, watch one sedate a young male with a dart gun so all can take measurements and specimens, see a skirmish in a war between rival factions of the large Talek West hyena clan, and, during a downpour, when flood threatens, help evacuate precious specimens and equipment. Montgomery’s graceful prose draws readers into the experience with clear explanations and vivid description. Bishop’s striking photographs show off the doglike hyenas’ furry cuteness. He includes close-ups of cubs at play and rest, researchers at work, and adult hyenas interacting with one another, as well as tent scenes, other wildlife, and the always-impressive scenery. Readers may be inspired by the stories of the white scientist’s diverse team of assistants: a retired medical social worker, U.S. graduate students, and a young Kenyan who hopes to study in the U.S.

An appealing, elegantly designed introduction to another much-maligned species. (fast facts, bibliography, acknowledgements, index) (Nonfiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: May 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-63511-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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