ECOVIEWS by Whit Gibbons


Snakes, Snails, and Environmental Tales
by & illustrated by
Email this review


 Musings on the environment, particularly that of the southeastern US, delivered with an easy fireside manner, from the Gibbonses (he's author of Their Blood Runs Cold, not reviewed; she's a freelance editor). It is unlikely there's anything in these pages that hasn't been said before, much of it frequently and in more impressive prose, but it is impossible to deny the Gibbonses' enthusiasm for their topic: the protection of biodiversity. They see as their mission the firing of young imaginations to create an attitude that considers the protection of biodiversity estimable and commonsensical. To this end they spin out the web-of-life theories and the value-of- species-diversity theories most readers will already know (though often with a decidely anthropocentric cast: ``Perhaps the most important reason we should care about the environment is that natural habitats and wildlife are an essential foundation for human culture''). But where the Gibbonses will likely make their impact is in deploying ecological curiosities and vagaries peculiar to the American Southeast (he teaches at the University of Georgia) to make their point, a niche that hasn't been overexplored in popular environmental literature. There is fascinating material here on cottonmouths abroad in winter; how it is that aquatic turtles unerringly locate the next-closest body of water (``Do they look up at the sky and somehow perceive light reflected from the surface of the water?''); why one should never pause when slinging a seven-foot whipsnake between one's legs (which, of course, begs the bigger question). These are enthralling regional tidbits, the kind of stuff that makes readers yearn for more, for the big picture. (illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: March 25th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8173-0919-5
Page count: 168pp
Publisher: Univ. of Alabama
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1998