cover image It's a Jungle Up There: More Tales from the Treetops

It's a Jungle Up There: More Tales from the Treetops

Margaret D. Lowman, James Burgess, Edward Burgess. Yale University Press, $32 (291pp) ISBN 978-0-300-10863-7

A single mother who studies the science of eaten leaves (herbivory), Lowman (Life in the Treetops) has traveled to distant tropical locations such as Peru, India and Samoa, often with her two sons in tow, and in this testament to her rarified approach to parenting, urges parents to get out there with their kids and let them get dirty. Her co-authors are her sons, and their essays on Biosphere 2, bromeliads and beetles bolster her claims that immersion in nature can produce young conservationists. She also boasts that her science work and her parenting style inform one another and help promote her goal of expanding forest conservation. She proselytizes throughout the book for environmental education, but it is the stories of spending water-logged nights aloft in the rainforest canopy and gross-out stories of eating hissing cockroaches that persuade most effectively. Readers will find themselves skipping through her repetitive exhortations to get back to the forests in order to get at the book's meat: adventure stories and oddball ecological information. The essays by her sons read like college-admissions essays, and the illustrations are needlessly whimsical, but Lowman's spirited tale of science and single parenting is inspirational.