Jun 16, 2008

Owls Aren't Wise and Bats Aren't Blind

A Naturalist Debunks Our Favorite Fallacies About Wildlife
by Warner Shedd

The title pretty much tells you what this book is about. Naturalist Warner Shedd describes more than thirty North American wildlife species, not only explaining the error and origin of common misconceptions about them, but also describing their behavior and many interesting facts. Woven seamlessly into the detailed information are numerous personal anecdotes. The fluid, descriptive writing and humor make Owl Aren't Wise and Bats Aren't Blind a real pleasure to read. I was already familiar with many of the "myths" and knew they were incorrect, but there were also a lot in here I had never heard of. And I learned many new things about familiar animals. Did you know for example, that in addition to nuts and seeds squirrels also eat fruit, fungi, tree buds, sap, bird eggs, baby birds and small frogs? I had no idea. My favorite story by far was of the "dead" possum found in Vermont by a man who'd never seen one before.

And I really enjoyed the illustrations by Trudy Nicholson. They are beautiful, detailed and infused with character. Except for- my one peeve with the book- the one of the polar bear. I was really surprised after so many pages of excellent artwork to see such a poor one. It looks like the artist really struggled with depicting fur underwater, and I rather wish she'd just drawn a polar bear on land and made it look great like all the others. I know it's a small thing to be bothered by, but every time I thumb through the book I stop on that page in dismay.

Rating: 4/5                 322 pages, 2000

10 comments:

Nymeth said...

This sounds excellent! Thanks for the review, Jeane :)

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Squirrels really eat small frogs?! Wow. I don't think I'll forget that one.

Bybee said...

I really think I'd enjoy this one! Thanks, Jeane!

writer2b said...

I'll never look at squirrels the same way again... The fluffy tail doesn't change them from being rats, after all. Uggh.

This sounds really good!

Trish said...

Frogs?? Really? I don't think I'll ever look at this little guys the same. :) Sounds like a fun and interesting read--maybe a good one to read aloud on a cartrip?

Jeane said...

Well, only somesquirrels eat the frogs, and in certain areas. It said that others eat baby voles or mice, too. That strikes me as being nearly cannibalistic.

verbivore said...

Ooh, I suspect I would love this book. I enjoy books about animals and the myths we have created about them. One of my favorite books is The Moon by Whalelight by Diane Ackerman, have you read that?

Jeane said...

No, I haven't read The Moon by Whalelight, but I'm definitely going to look for it now! Thanks for the mention.

Marie said...

If you like Moon by Whalelight you will love LIFE TO THE MAX - about a dog adopted from the pound. This well written book is charmingly illustrated and inspirationally charged with lifes' lessons. This read will be a bright spot in your summer!

Jeane said...

I'll take a look at it, Marie. Thanks for the recommendation!