Author Lynn Frierson Faust clearly has a passion for the subject matter and has done such a fantastic job of researching and cataloging the insects we know as fireflies, glow-worms, and lightning bugs. The largest portion of the book (Chapter 8) is an identification field guide.
I have to admit that most of the fireflies still look the same to me, but I look forward to capturing a couple this coming summer and checking them against the book to see what genus the luminescent insect is. There is a size chart, there is a detailed description of the insect and its habitat, there are unbelievable photos of the insect at various stages of its life, and there is a glow/flash chart detailing the number and type of flashes (and glow color) the specific fly typically displays.
I own a number of different sorts of field guides, from birds to trees to dragonflies to animal scat, and this book really has the most complete tools for identification that I've ever seen.
The portion of the book that is not directly related to identification is equally packed with information regarding these unique insects. My favorite section is the Frequently Asked Questions in which I learned how fireflies flash ... sort of. According to the book (and I'm simplifying) its complex chemistry and the experts are still trying to understand the specifics.
I also learned that the colors of the fireflies are not all the same - though it's possible that this has as much to do with the viewer as it does with the flies themselves. The researcher noted that five people watching the same display saw five slightly different color shades.
One interesting aspect in the FAQ portion was the notation that "Adult fireflies do not need to eat. They are mating machines. They exist only to find a mate and lay as many fertile eggs as possible." But one paragraph later is the notation that the researchers found "at least nine different species of fireflies ... appearing to consume nectar from toxic common milkweed blooms." Perhaps they don't need to eat, but do they consume to make themselves poisonous for protection (like the Monarch butterfly)?
Every summer I sit on my back deck and watch the fireflies in my yard, which is one of the reasons I was so interested in reading this book. I live very much in the Driftless Area mentioned for the "Slow Blues" genus so you can be sure I'll be checking 'my' fireflies this summer to see if they are this particular kind.
This is a remarkable book. I had hoped to give it out as a Christmas present this past year to family members who have a strong interest in nature and identification field guides but it wasn't yet released. I look forward to getting the book as a gift for family members this year.
Looking for a good book? Fireflies, Glow-Worms, and Lightning Bugs by Lynn Frierson Faust is a thorough, well-researched, tremendously illustrated (with photos) guide to one of the few insects that we still enjoy seeing and even often encourage people to catch and hold.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
There were three main reasons I wanted to read this book. 1) Simple curiosiThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5
There were three main reasons I wanted to read this book. 1) Simple curiosity over what sort of work an asteroid hunter does 2) the fact that this is connected with the TedTalks series, and 3) my son is studying to be an astrophysicist and I'm curious about what sort of jobs he might be looking at in the not-too-distant future.
So, what is an asteroid hunter? It is someone who is studying and mapping space in our solar system and plotting the courses for all the large rocks (asteroids) that could pose a threat to the earth should they be on a collision course.
It's not a fast-paced action sort of job. It's a lot of slow, methodical work. And as Nugent points out, much of the population isn't too worried about an asteroid strike. When was the last one? The last devastating strike? But thanks to some 'near' misses recently, and some Hollywood doomsday flicks featuring asteroids as the evil killer, asteroid hunting has gotten a little more recognition.
It's probably pretty difficult to talk about something that requires a good commit of physics without getting too technical and I have to admit that there were times, even in this slim book, that the science got a little too technical for me, but Nugent does a fine job of keeping it simple for those of us who are pretty simple laymen.
A couple of things that I hadn't thought too much about before... those meteor showers that we enjoy watching (for me it's usually on those August nights) - those "streaks of light are caused by very small rocks; most are about as big as a grain of sand, some as large as a pea." And as Nugent adds: "It's pretty amazing when you think about ; you're actually able to see the flash from something as small as a grain of sand from over (60 miles) away." That is pretty incredible, and it does make you pause and consider what it might be like if that rock were even as big as a car.
One other thing that I picked up on (among other things) is that the telescopes used for asteroid hunting can vary. The type that Nugent herself works with sees the sky in infrared. Asteroids may be dark rock and would only reflect the light of the sun if at the correct angle or if the sun were not blocked by another object. But all objects are warmed by the sun to some degree, and an infrared telescope will see an object that a 'normal' magnifying telescope wouldn't.
It's amazing how many asteroids are already discovered and tracked and amazing how many more might actually be out there, but I do feel better knowing that there are people like Nugent keeping the planet safe from giant rocks.
Looking for a good book? Asteroid Hunters, by Carrie Nugent, is a brief but thorough examination of what some people do to track the space in our solar system to make sure there are no asteroid on an intercept course with the earth, and if there are, to give our leaders time to take action.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
This is a cute little book full of tips and tricks and activity suggestions for the young nature-lover.
My children liked going outside and doing outdoThis is a cute little book full of tips and tricks and activity suggestions for the young nature-lover.
My children liked going outside and doing outdoor activities, especially fishing (for one of them) but I was not a very handy outdoors person and not really able to help them much (tying fishing line, for instance). This book is a great help.
My problem was that I didn't really have time to sit and look through it when the kids wanted to go out and do things.
A good book for kids interested in getting out to do some fishing!...more
It definitely takes a special sort of person to go in to the business of hThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.25 of 5
It definitely takes a special sort of person to go in to the business of helping and caring for animals. Maintaining a sense of humor definitely helps as animals can often be even more unpredictable than humans as patients. Veterinarian Dr. Bo Brock not only maintains his sense of humor, but shares it through a series of memoir essays.
Brock begins his veterinarian career in the small West Texas town of Lamessa. Lamessa is the middle of nowhere and indeed it is crowded with veterinarian patients.
Brock shares a good number of stories and I think it's fair to say that the humor in at least half of them have to do with the human owner of the patient as much as with the animals themselves. My favorite would be the time Brock heals a sick cow who then goes on a rampage and he describes the over-weight farmer running and trying to get in to a truck and Brock gives him a wedgie by pulling him into the truck by his underwear.
This is the sort of humor you can expect from the stories in this book. Occasionally Brock gets sentimental and it works well, reminding the reader that this sort of work isn't always funny.
It's hard to read a book like this and not compare it to the works of James Herriot. There are plenty of similarities due to the very often unpredictable nature of animals and the authors' love for animals. But there are plenty of differences between Brock and Herriot.
Brock writes in short bursts which are often entertaining, but they also often lack a punch. His stories typically don't build but instead are all very evenly paced ... fun in short bursts, the way he writes, but not necessarily powerful material for just sitting and reading.
Looking for a good book? Crowded in the Middle of Nowhere by Dr. Bo Brock is a fun and funny memoir of a veterinarian who has plenty of stories to tell about his work with animals and the people who own them.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
This book took me completely by surprise, and in a fantastically good way.
First, author Sy Montgomery manages to capture the reader's attention with the subject matter (octopuses [which is the correct way to write the plural of octopus, and Montgomery explains why]), but she holds the reader with her gentle narrative, which strokes our interest much the way she gently pets some of the octopuses in the New England aquarium. What we learn is that an octopus is incredibly smart and each has a distinctive personality and an incredible memory, recognizing humans even after months of not seeing them.
Montgomery shares with us some of the known science about the octopus (they have three hearts, a beak like a parrot [though we hardly ever see it], and their suction cups have chemoreceptors so that they can taste whatever they touch. They are bright and playful. A popular toy in aquariums is a pill bottle which the octopus can un-cap (and re-cap) fairly easily.
Right from the start it is clear that Montgomery has fallen in love with the octopus, and it doesn't take long for her passion to become infectious and we, too, want to touch and stroke and let an octopus taste our hands and arms with its tentacles. But for all the differences there are between octopus and human (and it feels as though there couldn't be many animals with a greater difference), it is their similarity that appeals. It is their personalities, as Montgomery describes them, that fascinates. Why does an octopus tenderly explore the hands and arms of two people, but then squirt the third? Why will they eat the offered fish from some, but not from others? Do they intentionally create problems in their tanks (plugging up valves so that the tanks over-flow) and sometimes escape their watery confines?
I did wonder at one point if the octopus that Montgomery was writing about actually had such human characteristics or if it was Sy Montgomery anthropomorphising the animal, and I was hypnotized by the writing to believe in it. I'm still not certain. I do know that while reading the book, I was eager to find a nearby aquarium that had octopuses so that I could visit and hopefully have some of the same experiences as Montgomery.
Upon more reflection after having finished the book, I really am not sure how much of the personalities of the different octopuses is really there, and how much of it was wanted to be there, by Montgomery. But I don't know why it wouldn't be there. The more science learns about our natural world and the animals, the more it seems we realize that man is not the only intelligent creature on the planet, and a book such as this may go a long way in helping people to recognize the inter-connectedness of all life.
This is a powerful and addicting book.
Looking for a good book? The Soul of an Octopus, by Sy Montgomery, is a fascinating memoir/science book that will have you wanting to get a membership at your nearest aquarium so that you can spend time with octopuses. I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I have long wondered why churches weren't being more active and vocal aboutThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 3.0 of 5
I have long wondered why churches weren't being more active and vocal about the need for environmental and ecological controls over God's earth. In the early 1990's I read a book (God is Green) that opened my eyes to this issue. Now, John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, leader figures on this issue, have written an authoritative work on the intersection of Ecology, Religion, and Ethics. Ecology and Religion is an exhaustive account of the needs for the various organized religions to step forward and take charge of world-wide ecological issues, and also details the work that's been done, along with the various world council meetings to discuss world ecology.
This is an important book and anyone with an interest in the world's health and future (and that should be all of us), or an active member of any church, should make this required reading. We've left the maintenance of the planet up to the politicians long enough and only the power of the pious can possibly prevent further catastrophe.
The book does get a little dry in the reading and it took me a while to get through this, but I DID keep coming back to it because of the issues it discusses (which are important to me), and there is a lot of information here.
This might not be for the casual reader with an interest in the subject, but rather for the student (of any age) or professional. One thing that I was hoping to find was more hands-on practices for the lay person. What can I do to help the ecology, in the name of a religion? Judging from this, it would be to attend some conferences. But I suspect there is more to it, this simply is not the guide. It is, however, the comprehensive report on what is being done on a global scale.
Looking for a good book? Ecology and Religion by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, is a thorough look at the global, religious efforts and world ecology and is a must for serious students of the issue.
I received a digital copy of the book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Sunrise Sunset is both a coffee-table book and an 'inspirational' book. PThis review originally published in Looking For a Good Book. Rated 2.75 of 5
Sunrise Sunset is both a coffee-table book and an 'inspirational' book. Photographer/editor Kim Weiss pairs her photographs with poetry and reflections meant to capture the awe and gratitude of our lives.
There is much to like here, and this will certainly be treasured by many. I, however, was a bit underwhelmed.
Enjoying the beauty of a sunrise or sunset is not something I take for granted, and my children could tell tales of our being in a rush to get somewhere and I'll pull the car over to take the time to sit and enjoy a beautiful sky. But for the sake of a book, I felt that there was a 'sameness' to the bulk of the pictures. Before turning each page, I could predict where the horizon would be in the photo; where the water-line would end and the tips of trees might be; where the clouds would be in the sky; etc etc etc. There were some pictures that were breath-taking, but for a book that is essentially a photo-book, I was hoping for a few more. My favorites were those on pages 78 and 105, mostly because of how different they were from the others.
Were I to read this book in the intended manner ... a two-page spread a week ... I may not have felt the same-ness. Instead I read this book over the course of a week and the consistent appearance was very apparent.
The reflective writings were brief and touching and from a wide range of writers, from Reverends to Rabbis. I'm not one to read devotionals or brief inspirational writings, but I recognize their value to many readers and these seemed generally apt for the book (though occasionally I wondered at why something was chosen).
This is a nice book, and will see its s of readers, but it's not a book I can rave or recommend.
Looking for a good book? If you like coffee-table inspirational books, this is the just the sort you're looking for....more
Opening a new Kim Stanley Robinson book, whether physical or electronic, is to know that, as a reader, you are about to go on a journey that will longOpening a new Kim Stanley Robinson book, whether physical or electronic, is to know that, as a reader, you are about to go on a journey that will long be worth remembering.
Shaman feels like a departure for Robinson. Typically his books have a cast of characters so long and complex that the readers needs a score sheet to keep track of their movements. And each set of characters has their own plot line, often disecting, sometimes running parallel to the books’ central theme. Shaman deviates from this norm. The entire book seems to focus on one Paleolithic man, “Loon.” Loon is surrounded by others, but only three characters, “Heather,” “Thorn,” and “Elga” figure prominently in the novel.
What is not unusual in this Kim Stanley Robinson book is Robinson’s understanding of, love for, and writing about, nature and environment. I see this in all his novels, and it is one of the things I like most about his work. Imagine Aldo Leopold or Sigurd F. Olson writing science fiction/fantasy, and we come close to the genius of Robinson. (Have I made it clear yet that I’m a fan of his work?)
Shaman starts with Loon setting off on his “wander” — that time when a boy becomes a man and must prove himself capable of surviving a month on his own. Here, though, he is also proving himself as a future shaman … the care-taker of a a small band, or village, of people. He is apprenticed to Thorn, a cranky but loveable figure who has much to teach. It drives Thorn crazy when Loon intentionally wants to change lines in a recited poem to make it his own, or so that it relates more to his own understanding.
Loon, we learn, was orphaned and taken in by Thorn and Heather, the wise, almost-witch-like, herb woman who seems to have more power in the community than anyone else. Thorn will doubt his ability to become shaman as he wasn’t born to the role, but forced to it by adoption. Loon will meet his future mate, Elga, at a once-a-year gathering of clans. She, like Loon, comes to her role through an adoption of sorts … adopted first in to the clan through which Loon meets her, and then in to Loon’s clan. It will be through Elga that Loon takes a life-changing journey … a continuation of his wander.
Author Robinson creates truly wonderful people. Each with a unique identity and so very appropriate to the time frame. What we see as we read this, is that human-kind hasn’t changed so very much over the course of tens of thousands of years. If anything, we’ve become less adept at being able to survive the wilderness; less capable of reducing waste in what we use; less thankful for what we are provided. But we do see that what hasn’t changed is the human passion for love; the human need for companionship; the homan desire to improve on what s/he already has. Here we see Loon making small, but we have every confidence that it will be lasting, improvements in conceptual thinking (art), and logic thinking as he improves upon existing snowshoes.
Everything I’ve ever read of Kim Stanley Robinson’s has been inspiring, and Shaman is no exception. Although relatively simple in story and plot, it is remarkably bold and comprehensive in scope. It feels as though nothing less than the future of mankind is on the line — we either grow and survive, or we remain stagnant and the future is bleak, and Loon is the hinge-pin.
One of the more fascinating aspects of Loon’s training is his learning to paint. How to mix the colors, how to apply it to the cave walls, how to show movement and action. Robinson writes about art, as an artist. He understands it deeply and fully and conveys all the feelings and emotions of an artist. We understand Loon’s work because of what it means to him. It’s an amazing ability to write about art in such away that we understand or feel that art.
I hadn’t made the connection until late in the book, but I had recently watched a documentary on the cave of Chauvet Pont d’Arc, and was completely engrossed in the cave paintings and animal bones found in this cave. When Loon first entered the cave to paint, I immediately thought of Chauvet Pont-d’Arc, because it was what I could relate to. But as the story developed, and particulalry through some actions of Loon’s near the end, I became more and more convinced that it was this cave that inspired Robinson to write this story. (You can see some of it here at their website.)
One extremely interesting aspect of this book… while the narrative of this book is third person, mostly focused on Loon, but occassionally on Thorn, there were two moments (and only two that I noted) when there was a brief first person narrative, by a person not identified. I have my suspicions as to what’s happening at those times, and I look forward to re-reading the book and better inspecting these moments. Robinson, being the the writer that he is, you know it’s not an accident, but because it’s so spare, it feels like a mistake. I read the first, first person section three times, trying to understand what I had come up against.
Still, this is one of the most remarkable and memorable books I’ve read in a very long time. This should be on every reader’s list.
I read this aloud to my boys and even though it's aimed at a younger reader, they were kept interested ... sometimes sharing with me what they alreadyI read this aloud to my boys and even though it's aimed at a younger reader, they were kept interested ... sometimes sharing with me what they already know about whales, and sometimes learning something new.
It's kept simple but packed full of information. Enough to make a child feel they've learned something pretty cool about some really neat animals, and yet whetting their appetite for more information.
I'm a fan of the Magic School Bus books and the wonderful things they have done to boost a child's interest in science. These "leveled readers" have tI'm a fan of the Magic School Bus books and the wonderful things they have done to boost a child's interest in science. These "leveled readers" have taken the series a step further and given the younger child the opportunity to read the books themselves, have fun, and still learn something from them.
The science is levelled appropriately and my eight year old loves coming to tell me interesting new facts. This time about the changing fur color of arctic animals.
The Magic School Bus books have done absolutely wonderful things for children and their interest in science. Take a group of children, who become famiThe Magic School Bus books have done absolutely wonderful things for children and their interest in science. Take a group of children, who become familiar/family, and a teacher that is unlike most teachers, and we bring the reader straight into a science project.
In this book, we go under water and learn about Coral Reefs. The book's author does a good job of combining a small plot, unique character traits, and just enough lesson that we enjoy learning something new, but not so much that we feel we're being lectured.
My children like for me to read the narrative portions, while they read the dialog and any sound effects that might be there.
I'm sur we all learned something new about coral reefs as well!...more
The information in this book is really quite good. The photos range from very good to fair.
What doesn't work well with this book, though is that it haThe information in this book is really quite good. The photos range from very good to fair.
What doesn't work well with this book, though is that it has a definite picture-book quality to it, but the information provided is definitely for a slightly older reader ... a reader who doesn't want to be associated with picture books anymore.
This particular edition (not exactly the same ISBN as that provided on this books' page) was purchased through a school's Scholastic Book Fair where it was displayed with a younger aged group of books. I know that this is an error on the book fair leaders, but it was done so based on the look and feel of the book ... something which readers are apt to do as well....more
This is a delightful collection or remembrances of small town life. It's the real stories of a Mayberry R.F.D.-like community. Not all of the writingThis is a delightful collection or remembrances of small town life. It's the real stories of a Mayberry R.F.D.-like community. Not all of the writing is easily readable, but one can tell that it comes from the heart.
I like a beginning, middle, and an end when I read something, and many of these short pieces do not have that. It's just the middle, or maybe only a beginning, and sometimes just an ending. For this, it can be hard to read, but the pieces are so short that one can do it easily enough.
A collection of essays and memories of, by, and/or about Fillmore County and its residents.
Introduction - Bonnie Flaig Prinsen Choosing This Place "The Big Woods" - Dana Gardner "This Place" - Nancy Overcott "A Sense of Place" - Becky Stocker "In Less Than An Hour" - P.J. Thompson "Here On The beach" - Wayne Pike "A View of the Prairie" - JoAnne Agrimson "Beautiful Mountain" - John Torgrimson Small Towns "Village Lottery" - Donovan Ruesink "A Sign of the Times" - Steve Befort "Happiness at Christmas from Coast to Coast" - Beverly Lewis Crowson "Rollerskating" - Marcelle Vrieze Shipton "Lost and Found" - Marjorie Taylor Smith "The Tawney Store" - Gary Stennes The Natural World "Tornado Watch" - Trudy Schommer "Tick Removal" - Jeff Kamm "Fish Out Of Water" - Wayne Pike "The Raccoon" - Tom Driscoll "A Skunk's Legacy" - Wayne Pike "Ginseng Hunting" - John Torgrimson Close Calls "Welcome Back" - Laverne C. Paulson "The Day the Boys Took Flight" - Peter Snyder "Christmas Eve 2003" - Herb highum "Missing the Bus" - Tim Gossman "Hello, Central?" - Cheryl Serfling "Adventures in Driving" - Erik Paulson "Pride Goeth Before the Fall" - Jeff Kamm "The Day the Lights Went Out at Mystery Cave" - Carol Thouin Reminiscence "Memories of an Indentured Farm Kid" - Al Mathison "Hot Hay!" - Marjorie Taylor Smith "Garden Genes" - Ann Marie Lemke "A Mother's Fear" - Herb highum "A Railroader's Daughter" - Marjorie Evenson Spelhaug "Spring Banquet" - Carol Hahn Schmidt "Feathered Friends" - Bonnie Heusinkveld "The Wheelchair Ride" - Carol Hahn Schmidt "A Tractor Story" - Richard Prinsen Food "Buying and Selling with Susie" - Anna Rae Nelson "Great-Uncle Richard and the Oatmeal Cookies" - Rose Breitsprecher "Broken Eggs" - Peter Snyder "A Disapponting Watermelon" - Ida Mae Bacon "Do-It-Yourself Groceries" - Kathleen Mulhern Characters "Starter Fluid" - Wallace Osland "Almost Mud Time" - Mary Lewis "Uncle Ingvald" - Signe Housker "There he Is" - John Brink "Reuben's House" - Nancy Overcott "Frank Walsh's Kitchen" - Charles Capek "Only One Life" - Craig Ostrem Life's Lessons "Snoose" - Wayne Pike "Summer School (Psychology 101) on the Farm" - Elisabeth Olness Emerson "The Fort Snelling School Bus" - Curtis A. Fox "The Music Prodigy" - Margaret Boehmke "Sports Car Fever" - Jon Laging "Guilty" - Richard Holle "My First Cigarette" - Mary Jo Dathe "Baseball and Red Horsin'" - Gary Feine Biographies...more
The only reason to own this book is for the splendid black and white drawings of Francis Lee Jaques. Certainly it is why I bought it. The Jaques' hadThe only reason to own this book is for the splendid black and white drawings of Francis Lee Jaques. Certainly it is why I bought it. The Jaques' had quite a reputation for their outdoor/nature writings and drawings, but Florence's writing, memoirs, seems so simple and unexciting. Whereas Francis' drawings still shine magnificently. No one has been able to match his work even today.
From the writing, I mostly got that Florence felt she was in over her head, and didn't like being left alone on backwater islands while Francis and a guide would take off in the canoe to search for ducks.
If you happen to see this book, it is well worth your time to thumb through it and admire the great pen and ink drawing work....more