cover image The Hyena Scientist

The Hyena Scientist

Sy Montgomery, photos by Nic Bishop. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99 (80p) ISBN 978-0-544-63511-1

The hyena has a less-than-stellar reputation—something that Montgomery aims to remedy in the newest addition to the Scientists in the Field series. Readers join zoologist Kay Holekamp as she tracks and studies spotted hyenas in Kenya along with a multigenerational team of biologists. The narrative unfolds with all the intrigue of a detective story; as the team radio tracks hyenas in land cruisers, Montgomery recounts their observations as if they are unfolding in the moment: “Kay recognizes this hyena immediately from his spot pattern. It’s Decimeter’s younger brother, year-old Kilometer.” Montgomery shares her own riveting experiences as part of the team, including helping to dart and collect samples from a hyena: “I realize with alarm that a hyena is waking up in my lap,” she recalls. Photo-filled and perceptive, the narrative provides a window into the lives of these fascinating animals, as well as the individuals who devote themselves to their study. Ages 10–12. (May)