CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Dennis Schmidt and Esther Schmidt.

Toronto, Oxford University Press, c1983.
unpaged, cloth, $24.95.
ISBN 0-19-540415-7.

Grades 6 and up.
Reviewed by Howard Hurt.

Volume 12 Number 1
1984 January

Dennis and Esther Schmidt found each other and the strenuous joy of freelance nature photography at a time in life when most people are beginning to anticipate a comfortable retirement. Their pictures tell us more clearly than the blurb from their publisher that they have both a concern for the cause of wildlife conservation and a demanding idea of what is meant by professional photography.

In this volume we are offered ninety-six four-colour plates showing more than eighty species. However, there are only eight very brief passages of text to accompany them. The preface does point out that the Schmidt's make no claim to have any zoological expertise, but their feeling of empathy for nature that they want us to understand would have been clearer if the visual art had been blended with some interesting ecological knowledge. That statement would also have been more distinctly underlined by some basic taxonomic or geographical organization. One has difficulty knowing what to make of garter snakes beside moose or an arctic fox in the same grouping as Pacific shore birds. Western Wildlife is attractive but, unfortunately, it has little instructional value. Reference books for the lay reader need not include exhaustive or profoundly academic textual matter, but there must be some attention given to informational needs.

The effort required to obtain these photographs was enormous, and the results are truly beautiful. It is unfortunate, therefore, that the book will sit largely unused on coffee tables and display bookshelves as such works usually do. With a little better selection and the addition of more information, the publishers could have provided schools and homebound nature lovers with more useful material while exploiting a larger and more profitable market.

Howard Hurt, Faculty of Education, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works