Day: August 8, 2021

Sharing Our Urban World

by Ann Downer

I didn’t realize when I picked this book from a recommended list, that it was juvenile non-fiction. I liked it anyway. It’s about wildlife in cities. Why wild animals are becoming more common in urban areas, why that’s a problem, and what people are doing about it. The book tells about raccoons, black bears, cougars, sea turtles, crows, bats, coyotes and alligators in particular, but also mentions some other species. Details why exactly certain animals start to inundate cities. Some are very adaptable, having a broad diet, ease in finding their way around or making do with different kinds of living space. Some have developed a very short flight distance, being unafraid of people. And others are simply forced into close contact with people because of habitat overlapping or being lost- in particular the flying foxes in Sydney Australia and loggerhead turtles in Florida. I thought that most of the animals mentioned would be numerous- and that’s the case for many, but not all. Deer, raccoons and coyotes are in no danger of disappearing soon. But the flying foxes and sea turtles are. It’s troubling to read about how difficult we’ve made it for animals to live in the world, but also encouraging to see how people are solving the issues in many places. Making greener spaces. Discouraging animals from living off garbage, while leaving them alone to live their lives otherwise. Building wildlife bridges or tunnels so they can safely cross highways. I learned quite a few new things- didn’t know before that jungle crows are such a problem in Tokyo (one stopped a bullet train for several hours when its nest on a power station caused an electrical shortage!) I didn’t know that crows are afraid of bees- the city encouraged urban beekeeping as a way to discourage crow numbers. I had no idea that some bat guano is purple- I’m guessing from the fruit they eat. Fun read with a lot of information, and just the right balance of detail for kids (I think).

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 3/5
64 pages, 2014

The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas

by Jim Ottaviani

Illustrated by Maris Wicks. Fun short graphic novel about the lives and work of three women scientists- all sent by Louis Leakey to study primates in the wild. Jane Goodall who first followed chimpanzees in the forests of Gombe, Dian Fossey who studied gorillas in the Virunga mountains, and Biruté Galdikas who tracked orangutans in Indonesia. For such a short book (I did wish it was longer!) it certainly packs in a lot of detail. Glad that I’ve read firsthand accounts by all three women, so I was familiar with many of the incidents noted, but others I wondered about as it’s been so long since I read the other books, I’ve forgotten many details. For example, I remembered that Jane Goodall once mentioned folding her clothes into plastic to get up a mountain trail without having them soaked- but this book while it illustrates that (decently), doesn’t explain what she was doing. I couldn’t recall what illness Biruté Galdikas had suffered from, nor exactly how Dian Fossey had died. The text and pictures make it clear that the work was difficult and tedious, that there was often strife (in Fossey’s case, between herself and the local people), that all three women also did the tiresome work of keeping notes, typing up reports, attending conferences and such after. There’s hints of Louis Leakey’s perhaps inappropriate reasons for recruiting young women to work for him. It shows Jane Goodall keeping her young son in a cage to protect him from the chimpanzees, but doesn’t mention her divorce from Hugo van Lawick, or her second marriage, whereas Gladikas’ divorce and re-marriage are addressed. Just a bit uneven in that regard which was a tad disappointing. Also sometimes confusing when it switched voices, who was narrating about whom. However I enjoyed reading it (in one sitting, a nice breather after the thick biography I just completed), the pictures were fun, and I felt like it gave a very good overview of the work these women did. Especially their significant discoveries- that Jane Goodall saw chimpanzees using tools, and Biruté Galdikas observed orangutans walking on the ground (which nobody thought they ever did, before). I’d hope the book is inspiring to young women who might want to do scientific work, or at least encourage them to pick up other books and learn more about them. It certainly added a few more titles to my own list!

Borrowed from the public library.

Rating: 3/5
140 pages, 2013

DISCLAIMER:

All books reviewed on this site are owned by me, or borrowed from the public library. Exceptions are a very occasional review copy sent to me by a publisher or author, as noted. Receiving a book does not influence my opinion or evaluation of it

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