Rascal Book Review



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Review:

Rascal is the author’s Newberry award winning memoir of his experience raising a baby raccoon as a boy in World War I era Wisconsin. It is one of my mother’s favorite books, and one of mine as well. The writing is beautiful, and the adventures of boy and raccoon both funny and touching.

It will also give you new appreciation for the cleverness of raccoons, though beware of actually trying to keep one as a pet! Raccoons are wild animals, not pets, and keeping them as pets is against the law in many states. If you find an orphaned raccoon, make sure it actually is orphaned before you intervene. Sometimes mother raccoons leave their babies alone temporarily to gather food or take a nap. If you believe the raccoon genuinely is orphaned or injured, the best option is to contact a wildlife rehabilitation organization. If there aren’t any local organizations in your area, check out these websites for additional help:

My rating: (5 / 5)

Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World’s Greatest Wildlife Rescue Book Review



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Review:

William Stolzenburg’s Where the Wild Things Were was one of my favorite non-fiction reads in recent years, and Stolzenburg became an instant favorite author. I was really excited when I heard he’d published a new book and checked it out immediately.

Like Where the Wild Things Were, Rat Island: Predators in Paradise and the World’s Greatest Wildlife Rescue was extremely well-written, absorbing, and eye-opening. However, I’m not going to downplay it: it is also an absolutely gut-wrenching litany of destruction. There were several points where I had to put the book down for awhile, because I just couldn’t take it anymore. So much senseless slaughter, so many unique and fascinating species lost forever.

As an antidote to the heartbreak, Stolzenburg shares amazing and inspirational stories about the incredible heroics performed by conservationists like Richard Treacy Henry  in an attempt to rescue the survivors, as well as discussions of modern scientifically-led efforts to remove invasive predators and restore sensitive habitats for birds and other wildlife in New Zealand, Hawaii, and the Aleutian Islands, among others. In particular, he focuses on efforts to save the Kakapo, a large flightless green parrot from New Zealand. Here’s a clip of the bird itself:

It’s a fascinating read and I highly recommend it for anyone interested in wildlife conservation, ecology, or natural history. It also makes a good companion read for Quamman’s The Song of the Dodo: Island Biogeography in an Age of Extinction.

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My rating: (4.5 / 5)

 

Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants Book Review



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Review:

After attending a very enjoyable lecture by Dr. Douglas W. Tallamy, a professor of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, I immediately bought his book, Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife With Native Plants.

I am not sure that I could credit Dr. Tallamy or his book with any genuinely new ideas, but what he has done is provided an extraordinarily readable, thorough, and convincing synthesis of a number of principles that natural and wildlife gardeners have promoted for years. Bringing Nature Home is a must read for anyone serious about attracting backyard wildlife.

Dr. Tallamy writes passionately of the importance of sustaining biodiversity in the United States and around the world. After a rather grim and depressing outline of the many extinct and imperiled plant and animal species we have lost to development and other factors, Dr. Tallamy points out that there is still much room for hope, and it lies primarily in the hands of gardeners.

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Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators Book Review



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Review:

Veteran science writer William Stolzenburg’s first book Where the Wild Things Were: Life, Death, and Ecological Wreckage in a Land of Vanishing Predators is a passionate call for large predator conservation.

Stolzenburg’s enthusiasm for his topic is infectious, and aided by a talent for clearly explaining the complicated relations between predator and prey.

The book begins with a short disclosure of the author’s biases, then launches into a history of scientific research into the ecological effects of the predator-prey relationship, in the course of which Stolzenburg delivers an extremely convincing case that predators are not only part of biodiversity, but actually necessary to maintaining it.

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Animals Are Beautiful People Movie Review

Review:



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The original plan was to set my daughter up with a movie and try and get a little work done while she was watching. She loves animals, so we decided to give Animals Are Beautiful People a shot after stumbling across it on Netflix. Well, the original plan didn’t last long. I’d joined her in front of the screen within minutes of starting it.

It turned out to be one of the funniest and most charming documentaries I’ve ever seen. I wouldn’t recommend it as a serious documentary about African wildlife, as there is rampant anthropomorphism and several points where the film-makers appear to have set situations up or edited together pieces of unrelated footage to make something appear funnier or more interesting than it was, but as a fun, entertaining, and mostly upbeat snapshot of wilderness life in Southern Africa, it’s a great choice for kids and adults alike. It has a wonderful score as well.

Here’s a favorite clip of a bunch of animals getting totally smashed on overripe Marula fruit:

My rating: (4 / 5)