I'm working my way through the Scientists in the Field series (does anybody know where I can find a complete list? It's aggravating that even the publisher doesn't have a complete series list). I just finished the award-winning Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery. Hopefully, most of you have read this amazing book already, but basically it tells the story of a scientific expedition to Papua New Guinea to track a rare species of tree kangaroo, found only in the just-as-rare cloud forests. The things which make this book amazing, fascinating, and award-worthy are:
Stunning photographs by Nic Bishop. He brings the cloud forest to life and makes me want a tree kangaroo to cuddle!
Brisk, expository text by Sy Montgomery. She includes facts, stories, descriptions, history, and science in a wonderful blend that holds the reader's attention throughout the story.
Personal stories of the people on the expedition. The leading scientist, Lisa Dabek, overcame asthma to study the animals she loved. Other personal stories of the various members are included, as well as those of their local guides and contacts which....
Makes this book truly amazing as it is one of the few science/travel type books which really shows the local population as friends, scientists, and assistants without patronizing them or denigrating their help. What makes this book even better, is that Sy Montgomery has managed to give equal importance to the local conservation efforts and the local culture as she gives to the Western scientists. It's a new model for scientific field expeditions and a large part of what makes this book stand out.
Excellent sources and other information, including pronunciation guides and sources for more information about the people, places, and animals in the book.
I plan to use this in the spring as part of my planned nonfiction book club and I think it will be a winner. Which is part of the reason why I want a complete list of the Scientists in the Field series, because I know kids will want to read more...
Verdict: This series is one that should be on the shelf of every library. It will take a little time to find them all, as there is no comprehensive list, but it's worth the time!
ISBN: 978-0618496419; Published October 2006 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library