CM . . .
. Volume XIII Number 1 . . . . September 1, 2006
The introduction in this fourth book has a tighter focus than previous volumes while still offering a glimpse of the childhood curiosity that first drove Keating to pursue a career as a naturalist. His delight in exploring riparian areas is obvious. Water attracts wildlife: what better place to watch for it? Three sites in Alberta and BC might be of particular interest to young Canadian readers, given that they could be almost in one's own backyard: mountain lakes near Calgary, the South Saskatchewan River in southern Alberta, and wetlands in Creston, BC. Four of the episodes take place on or near the Zambezi River in Zimbabwe, a favorite spot Keating likes to revisit. Other locations include the Tatshenshini River in the Yukon, Guyana's Rupununi River and Ghana, West Africa's Wechiau Hippo Sanctuary. The latter two sites are the location of conservation initiatives involving Calgary Zoo's Conservation Outreach Program of which Keating is Director.
In each adventure, Keating creates an appealing 'you are there' feeling with specific details of both the environment ("...a little trickle of water that bubbles a meter wide and maybe 7 centimeters deep out of....a strip of sandstone-walled valley") and the wildlife he encounters ("...3 different species of vultures arrive...the hyenas came and all night we heard them laughing... 2 marabou storks picking up bits of flesh..."). The reader feels s/he has also witnessed six lions take down and consume a kudu, been aboard the canoe that was crunched by a hippo, or made ice cream with 10,000 year old glacier ice. Language choices create amazing sensory images. In one elephant encounter, we hear "the elephant [shaking] the whole tree...sounds like a gigantic rattle being shaken." In another, elephants cavorting in the Zambezi produced "the crack of their wet tusks clacking together .... like wet billiard balls."
As in the second and third books in the series, this one includes an activity for youngsters to try - Making a Bird Blind - using recycled and natural materials found around the home and garden. As well, the emphasis on conservation practices and 'no-trace camping' helps the reader understand and share the author's respect for nature. One chapter has a particularly emotional and fairly graphic account of finding the remains of elephants poached for their tusks. The contact information for numerous conservation-minded organizations at the back of the book offers the reader a chance to learn and understand more about the author's passion.
If you enjoyed the first three books in the “Going Wild” series, this one will not disappoint you.
Gillian Richardson, a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian, lives in BC.
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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.