With unfettered curiosity and a high degree of engagement, poet and naturalist Ackerman ( A Natural History of the Senses ) sported among penguins in subantarctic rookeries and herds of alligators on a Florida alligator farm, gathering experience with the creatures featured in these four lively, information-packed accounts. Whether writing of hunting bats in Texas caves or of swimming next to a mother whale and her calf in a Patagonian bay, Ackerman makes vivid the qualities and appeal of animals and the natural world they inhabit. Fueled primarily by her own response to the creatures, her reports also encompass hosts of facts (an alligator might grow as many as 3000 teeth in its lifespan; the testes of the male right whale weigh as much as 2200 lbs.), often related in a particularly revealing way, as in her observation that more people can be found in a football stadium on an autumn weekend afternoon than have ever seen the Antarctic in all of history. As commanding as the animals are the experts whose expeditions she joins--men and women, like whale expert Roger Payne, who possess extraordinary knowledge and passionate commitments to the creatures they study and work to save from extinction. Enthusiastic, free-ranging and accessible, this is popular natural-history writing at its most persuasive. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/30/1991 Release date: 10/01/1991 Genre: Nonfiction
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