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The Green Life: Book Review Wednesday: Books About Animals

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December 23, 2009

Book Review Wednesday: Books About Animals

Books about environmentalism Every Wednesday, we review a selection of new and upcoming books addressing a specific aspect of environmentalism. This week we’re recommending books about animals.

Penguin (by Stephen Martin, $20, Reaktion Books, November 2009) From the vast Animal book series that covers everything from rat to rhino, comes an in-depth look at the natural and cultural history of the penguin. Martin looks at the evolution, diet, behavior, and predators – among other aspects – of the different species of penguin. This book does not just list random penguin facts, but it also ties in an interesting narrative of the penguin’s relationship with human societies, which reveals a fascinating history of our love for the animal.

Do Bats Drink Blood?: Fascinating Answers to Questions about Bats (by Barbara A. Schmidt-French and Carol A. Butler, $22, Rutgers University Press, October 2009) Bats are often perceived as a mysterious, sometimes frightening animal, but this book explores their fascinating world. Among the various topics covered in this readable question-and-answer, picture-popping book are bat bodies, behavior, love, dangers, and defenses and its interaction with people. From the most basic questions, such as what do they eat, to questions you might not normally think about asking, like can bats swim or do they bite people, this book covers it all. It is perfect for any naturalist, animal lover, or person interested in learning about how bats are beneficial to global ecological, economic, and public health.

Nic Bishop Marsupials (by Nic Bishop, $18, Scholastic Nonfiction, September 2009) The book looks at the diversity of marsupials, using simple, easy-to-read text to captivate readers regarding interesting facts on a variety of aspects of marsupials. The book is also loaded with crisp, full-page photos that will entice the reader to turn the page to see what is next. Biologist and photographer Bishop has developed an engaging book that is perfect for the younger kids who want to learn about marsupials.

Planet Ape (by Desmond Morris and Steve Parker, $50, Firefly Books, September 2009) Apes are our closest living relatives, but how much do we really know about them? With habitat loss, hunting, and disease plaguing an already decimated population totaling 400,000 apes worldwide today, who knows what the future holds for these amazing creatures. Morris, a famous zoologist, and Parker give an inside, detailed look at gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans covering everything from ape anatomy, communication skills, social life, and the relationship between apes and humans. The book also contains 200 photographs of the diverse ape world. A proportion of the royalties from the sale of Planet Ape will be donated to charities working to conserve apes, so you can help make a difference while learning a ton about a fascinating animal.

Part of the Pride: My Life Among the Big Cats of Africa (by Kevin Richardson with Tony Park, $26, St. Martin’s Press, September 2009) This book tells the story of one man’s bond with adult lions in South Africa and how he was able to become part of the pride. While working as an animal custodian at two South African animal parks, he was able to watch and understand how the lions interacted and behaved. He gradually developed deep personal bonds with them that allowed him to rest with adult male lions and swim with lionesses. This is an interesting story for any animal lover.

--Michael Mullaley

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