cover image Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation

Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation

Edward O. Wilson, Jim Ottaviani, and C.M. Butzer. Island, $28 (240p) ISBN 978-1-61091-958-6

Ottaviani (Hawking) skillfully adapts Wilson’s spirited 1994 memoir into a graphic narrative full of personality, but without skimping on the science. Wilson, the famed ecologist and self-proclaimed “naturalist hobo,” illuminates big ideas by celebrating the small things in life: his meticulous study of ants, for example, helped form foundational theories of biodiversity. His memoir spans an unpretentious, joyful life spent reveling in the natural world and defending the field of ecology. Shuttling among family members in the South in the 1930s and ’40s, Wilson studied the world around him, catching snakes and dissecting anthills. “The outdoors was the one part of my world I perceived to hold rock steady. Animals and plants I could count on—human relationships were more difficult,” he reflects. Ottaviani’s adaptation and Butzer’s art adds good-natured visual humor, like a depiction of Wilson’s stepmom patiently listening to his self-serious debate at age 16 over whether he should devote the rest of his life to butterflies, ants, or the “dazzling variety” of flies. Butzer’s clean linework helps an occasionally entomologically dense text become breezy and accessible, though Wilson would surely appreciate how all the flora and fauna are labeled with their scientific names. This hearty graphic memoir is poised to inspire a new generation of naturalists. [em]Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary. (Nov.) [/em]