Monday, July 26, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Sy Montgomery

Today I'm looking at three middle grade adaptations of Sy Montgomery's adult works. Sy Montomery is one of my favorite Scientists in the Field series writers, so I thought I'd check out some of her other books. I tried to make it through her adult books, but just wasn't interested in that amount of philosophy mixed into animal stories. So, I took a look at three adaptations of adult books.

The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans tells the story of tigers who are unlike any other species. They have adapted to live in an estuarine environment and have developed many unusual behaviors, including an unusually high rate of attacking and eating people. The book includes comparisons and explanations of normal tiger behavior, hypothesis on how these tigers developed their odd behaviors, and interviews with local inhabitants, including tiger lore and myth in the area. It was interesting, but there was too much speculation and not enough facts. Eleanor Briggs' photography was detailed and varied but this book was still very text-heavy.

Encantado: Pink Dolphins of the Amazon is written in a very odd tense, which I can't remember the name of right now. For example "You're about to meet one of the most mysterious dolphins in the world. Scientists are eager to find out more about them. They could use your help. but studying them can be extremely difficult - as you'll soon find out." The facts and stories about these strange creatures were interesting, but the style drove me nuts. There's also lots of miscellaneous information about the Amazon and doing research and living there thrown in as well. Dianne Taylor-Snow's photography is ok, but nothing special.

Search for the Golden Moon Bear follows the Scientist in the Field model much more closely. A group of scientists and interested people go on an expedition and do research to solve a specific question: Do golden moon bears exist and are they a separate species? Along the way they encounter the different culture of Cambodia, lots of bears, unexpected setbacks and help, and many bears. Returning to the United States, the bear samples are sent to labs and there's a detailed and lengthy discussion of DNA and how testing works. The DNA testing shows some surprising results - not what they'd hoped, but something unexpected and interesting. This one was like a very long Scientist in the Field and there weren't quite as many photographs, all of which were taken unofficially by members of the expedition.

Verdict: The bears were my favorite, the tigers a close second. I really couldn't stand the weird tense in Encantado. If you need some longer naturalist/animal/science books for middle grade these would be good. Most of my animal lovers are much younger though and so I will stick with Scientist in the Field.

The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans
ISBN: 978-0618077045; Published February 2001 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library

ISBN: 978-0618131037; Published March 2002 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library

Search for the golden moon bear
ISBN: 978-0618356508 ; Published November 2004 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library

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