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The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,674 Ratings  ·  167 Reviews
From one of the finest nature writers at work in America today-a lyrical, dramatic, illuminating tour of the hidden domain of wild animals.Whether recalling the experience of being chased through the Grand Canyon by a bighorn sheep, swimming with sharks off the coast of British Columbia, watching a peregrine falcon perform acrobatic stunts at 200 miles per hour, or engagin ...more
Kindle Edition, 337 pages
Published (first published 2007)
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
I would give this book six stars if I could! This is one of the best nature books I have EVER read. Childs covers encounters with everything from mosquitoes to mountain lions. He has spent large blocks of time in true wilderness, sometimes under great hardship. He's a risk-taking crazy man at times, but he has respect for the creatures he meets along the way. He also writes beautifully about the majesty of the great outdoors.

I read this book slowly and savored every paragraph. The author manages
May 23, 2012 Maia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely fell in love with this collection of essays. The piercing, understated style of Childs' writing took my breath away with every description of meeting or observing an animal in the wild, some merely curious encounters and some very nearly life-threatening. There is an organic poetic sensibility in his writing as well, one that demonstrates his understanding not only of animal nature, but of nature in general and our place in it. His philosophy and imagery hearken to that expressed by ...more
Aug 05, 2011 Preeti rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nature and animal lovers
I just loved this book - the writing was fantastic; it was absolutely lyrical.
This far north the sun was still up, although very low, riding through the mountains as if looking for something it lost on the ground. (p24)
The author shares his experiences with various animals in the wilderness (or even in his backyard). The book is divided into chapters based on each different animal, including everything from a mountain lion, to a raven, down to a praying mantis. I could imagine the scenes as I re
May 07, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good animal encounter stories. Lots of natural history. It's the kind of book you and pick up any time. Each chapter is like a short story.
Jan 21, 2009 Kurtbg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-non, zoology
This book houses a collection of an outdoorsman's animal encounters.
He weaves in scientific, historic, and sometimes animals legend to educate as well as entertain the reader - as is most common in books of this type (see any cat or dog book).

It's easy to treat animals as a general abstract. Over time reduced to the ability of pointing and identifying an animal as in a zoo. That doesn't do the animal justice.

I find books of this type help break through to let you know there's something more goi
Oct 04, 2011 Deanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a wonderful book-- and though I read it a while ago, looking back I can't imagine why I ever gave it only 4 stars. Though I shall preserve my past thoughts and opinions, even if I might not agree with them now, I must say this is a truly beautiful book. The writing is simple, quiet, like a shimmering white snowfall in the silence of the wilderness, but it shines with a hidden lusciousness that makes it thoroughly enjoyable to read, especially when the quiet pitter patter of the rain com ...more
Jun 24, 2009 Jackie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is a collection of essays documenting Craig Childs' unique encounters with wildlife. Child's insatiable curiosity, intensive research, and creative writing abilities contribute to a superb read and new understanding of the wildlife encountered.

While working in the Library of the Colorado Division of Wildlife I had put together a collection of news articles in on the "last grizzly bear shot in Colorado."  Newspaper accounts vary a lot from Childs' account. I think I remember pictures of
Amber the Human
Jan 03, 2014 Amber the Human rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Back in August, before a road trip, I wandered through the library aisles, searching for something that would have short parts to it that I could read to my husband or he could read to me while we drove. I came across this book, and while we were driving, asked to be read a chapter. We chose at random, "Camel," which proved to be exhaustively boring. But we persevered, and were next rewarded with "Raccoon," which proved to be one of the most entertaining stories about an animal I've ever heard. ...more
Jan 24, 2012 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A collection of various essays regarding the author's encounters with animals in the wild. I thoroughly enjoyed every single essay with the exception of the sea lion (the sea lion essay just didn't connect with me). My favorite was the mountain lion. The author includes tremendous scientific facts and history regarding the different species, so the book was both entertaining and extremely informative. I found myself sharing tidbits of info that I had gleamed from the different chapters. For exam ...more
Apr 21, 2011 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OK, I admit I have a Craig Childs problem. This is the 3rd book of his that I have read since seeing him speak about three months ago. I am very struck by how I have not met Craig previously, or run into more of his fans. If you like wild places, particularly places in the American West, then this is your guy. The writing is excellent, but what has captured my imagination is his curiosity, and then drive with which he goes out and tramps about in deserts, forests, and such. We all know these pla ...more
Beverley Kaye
Jun 20, 2012 Beverley Kaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book of short stories in which Childs tells of his encounters with wild things. He is a master story teller, my heart raced as he stared down a mountain lion, and my soul sang while he meditated on swallow flight. Who knew that a Red Spotted toad could be so interesting! At times his metaphors become lyrical “...the aspens themselves migrate across mountains in great, thick herds, singing like water whenever the wind blows.”
As well as evocative he manages to cram lots of interesting da
Rhonda Riley
Jun 05, 2014 Rhonda Riley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of nonfiction I love. Childs reports on his encounters with animals spark my imagination and makes me more appreciative. He is a good writer. Sometimes funny and sometimes a little crazy. The man is constantly walking out into the woods and looking. His powers of observation are great. Full of detail, knowledge, curiosity and respect. I read a chapter or two each night--my treat at the end of the day. It's not linear so you can skip around. But don't neglect the cat chapters or ...more
Aug 06, 2012 Lynne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For animals lovers. Despite very little dialogue this is a brilliant read. The author weaves stories about others who share our world and how they adapt, survive or don't; and what they have to tell us. Excellent visual narrative, but I really was longing for the authors photos to accompany the text since he's been to so many remote places. I would have eaten those up like chocolate on the cake. This book belongs in everyone's cabin in the woods, on the beach, in the desert or wherever you have ...more
An Owomoyela
Jun 20, 2013 An Owomoyela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite noticing, after a while, that all the stories had roughly the same format and tone – a kind if gentle, breathless wonder; personal anecdotes surrounding and cradling various zoological and ethological facts, history, and observations – I much enjoyed reading through these. They're short, brightly-illuminated glimpses into facets of animal existence, which serve to raise questions more than to fully educate, especially in the case of what the author refers to as "sorcerous crows", who see ...more
Dec 10, 2016 Matt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far one of my favorite books of 2016 - the sort I angrily wish Kerri and I had had a chance to write first - made all the more powerful by how many of Childs' experiences mirror my own, and yet his words are still no less potent for that shared experience.

[5 stars for being as close to perfection as any outdoor book I've recently read.]
If all it took to write a good book was experience, this book would be awesome. Unfortunately, Childs' only advantage is that he managed to get close to some wild animals. His prose is bland, and his book his the literary equivalent of background music. Forgettable.
Oct 04, 2010 Tracymarksseglin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Marvelous vignettes of animals in the wild. A great book to take on a camping trip or nature expedition.
Robin Hitchcock
Sep 11, 2015 Robin Hitchcock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting man and writer. I loved reading about his animal encounters. He also made me want to hike even more.
Sheppard  Hobgood
May 25, 2012 Sheppard Hobgood rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Craig Childs takes you with him. He is a great traveling companion. What he imparts is worth listening to.
Jul 05, 2011 Retta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this might be one of the most amazing books I have ever read!!!
Aug 20, 2012 Milo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Childs is one of the best outdoor writers out there. Read it, you'll like it.
Chris Pearson
Feb 02, 2017 Chris Pearson rated it it was amazing
Great stories by a great writer

If you have ever been in the wild these stories will bring back a flood of memories of your experience
Jun 26, 2011 Jeph rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Animal Dialogues, a compilation of encounters in the Wild, is the first book I've read by Craig Childs and comprises some of the best science and nature writing I've ever had the privilege to experience. Childs divides his book into sub-sections of animals he has crossed paths with during the many outdoor adventures in his life. From showdowns with dangerous predators like the jaguar or mountain lion, to brushes with eagles, peregrine falcons and great blue herons, even down to observations ...more
Melissa Conner
Oct 27, 2010 Melissa Conner rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild is a lyrical and beautifully written collection of short essays written by Craig Childs, one of the most appreciated and finest nature writers of our time. From his terrifying experience staring down a mountain lion to his Alfred Hitchcock-like run in with a group of murderous ravens, these various experiences with the animal world will leave you inspired to go out walking, traveling, adventure seeking to find and create your own tales of wil ...more
Oct 08, 2015 Katrice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Am a frustrated biologist. I don't have the focus to actually be good at scientists - eyes glaze over at to many details, but, man. . . part of me really wants to spend a lot of time immersing myself in the wilderness.

So. I am an armchair naturalist I suppose. A sucker for any well-written memoir of other people's lives in the wilderness. Given that, the title of this collection alone would have attracted me even if the cover photo was not gorgeous. But, when I actually opened the collection. .
This book is a recounting of the author's encounters with animals, from wasps and mosquitoes to blue sharks and bears. The writing is evocative and reflective, peppered with nuggets of information on the astonishing quirks and capacities of the various creatures he writes about. Still, there are a couple of things that reduced the charm of what would have otherwise been intimate and memorable portraits. One, the author and his sweaty-backpacking-through-the-wilderness-all-geared-up narrative int ...more
Mar 09, 2014 Judd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Childs has created a rare work - nonfiction with beautiful prose that informs readers in a truly enchanting manner. I am a lover of nature and reside less than 100 miles from Childs home in Crawford, CO. My home is in Ouray, CO, one of the places that the author lived and wrote of in this book. He is still remembered here by locals. Childs tells us so much about the many creatures around us, but he spares us lectures on science and instead tells about the nature and mystical behavior of animals ...more
Melissa Salyers
Jan 02, 2014 Melissa Salyers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
This book was excellent. I really like the way Childs not only relates his experiences with wild animals but he also teaches the reader something about each animal. He goes into their skeletal structure, evolutionary history and how they live and survive, what they eat and how they survive the winter in harsh climate. I really liked how he observes and lives with the animals without trying to pet them or make them into his friends. He respects them as wild animals and admires them without making ...more
Elly Sands
Aug 30, 2012 Elly Sands rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another 5 star book from Craig Childs. I loved his "Secret Knowledge Of Water" and this is just as interesting. His writing style appeals to me. He is clever, intelligent, and conveys his experiences and knowledge with honesty and ease. It's as though you were just hanging out with him. I again learned so much from his book and this time about my favorite subject, animals. Example: Porcupine quills are covered with a natural antibiotic so when they fall out of trees (which they seem to often do) ...more
Aug 13, 2009 Sue rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any animal or nature lover.
I loved this book. (And so did my book club!) The author writes in exquisite detail about unique encounters he has had with various creatures during a lifetime of living and working outdoors as a nature writer. Childs descriptions are almost poetic at times, suspenseful at others, and filled with facts about each species that are inserted so skillfully into the narrative that you won't even notice that you are learning. His stories cover a wide-range of animals - from grizzly bears to porcupines ...more
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CRAIG CHILDS is a commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men's Journal, Outside, The Sun, and Orion. He has won numerous awards including the 2011 Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, 2008 Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure, the 2007 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and the 2003 Spirit of the West Award for his body of work.
More about Craig Childs...

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“Most animals show themselves sparingly. The grizzly bear is six to eight hundred pounds of smugness. It has no need to hide. If it were a person, it would laugh loudly in quiet restaurants, boastfully wear the wrong clothes for special occasions, and probably play hockey.” 13 likes
“Coyotes move within a landscape of attentiveness. I have seen their eyes in the creosote bushes and among mesquite trees. They have watched me. And all the times that I saw no eyes, that I kept walking and never knew, there were still coyotes. When I have seen them trot away, when I have stepped from the floorboard of my truck, leaned on the door, and watched them as they watched me over their shoulders, I have been aware for that moment of how much more there is. Of how I have only seen only an instant of a broad and rich life.” 10 likes
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