Elegant, low-profile, life-shaping events in the outdoors, from naturalist Warner. Collected here in ten essays are just the type of experiences that in their undramatic way quietly become the stuff of memory. For Warner, these indelible episodes took place in nature, and the why of this is explained in a moving introductory piece on his first forays into the wild under the tutelage of his irascible step-grandfather, who served in lieu of a father. The incidents cum adventures include digging for fossils in central Utah with a friend and a professor from Princeton in 1941 (said friend then shipping out after Pearl Harbor and dying in the Pacific), and hearing the thunderous slap of orcas” flukes reverberate through the Patagonian hills (“I wanted to explore la tiera mas austral del mundo . . . I would do this entirely on my own, using only public transportation wherever such existed”) again in the early 1940s. During the same war that killed his friend, he first viewed a coral reef community through a pair of Hawaiian spear-fishing goggles made of wood and glass and an inner tube, and began asking all the right questions: Why all the color? Why all the variety? Why does this phenomenon touch me so? Some of the locales are impossibly remote or just plain difficult to get to—Ellesmere Island, the Virginia barrier islands—while other places ensnare him in their force field, such as the Dry Tortugas, where amid the noddies and frigates and boobies of every persuasion a merlin dives and plucks a warbler from the air within inches of his ear. Such breadth of subject matter is no problem for Warner, who has a natural storyteller’s talent for enthralling readers on any topic he chooses. Some 20 years ago, Warner won a deserved Pulitzer for his transcendent book Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay. These essays have an equal understated beauty and display the same seasoned understanding of the natural world.

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7922-7455-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: National Geographic

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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