Newest Animals and Wildlife Reviews

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Tamed and Untamed: Close Encounters of the Animal Kind by Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall Thomas

3.5star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Sy Montgomery and Elizabeth Marshall-Thomas are best friends who also happen to be New York Times best-selling authors. They first bonded over their shared love of animals: shortly after meeting, Sy's pet ferret had given Liz a nasty bite, but Liz didn't seem to mind at all. She REALLY didn't mind being bitten by a weasel. I knew we were soul mates, recalls Sy. Tamed and Untamed is the resulting collaboration between the two friends as they share personal anecdotes and amazing stories about the animal world. Full review...

10 Reasons to Love an Elephant by Catherine Barr and Hanako Clulow

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Ten reasons to love an elephant, eh? Well, personally, I've never needed ten reasons as they've always been my favourite large animal, the gentle giants of Africa and India, but it was good to find out more about them. Perhaps the most surprising fact which I discovered was that they live in herds headed by their grandmothers. Female elephants and their calves stay together and the oldest female elephant is the one in charge as she knows where to find food and water - and she knows her herd. She remembers about people too. Full review...

Outskirts by John Grindrod

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Outskirts is an interesting take on a phenomenon of the modern age: the introduction of the green belt of countryside surrounding inner city housing estates. John Grindrod grew up on the edge of one such estate in the 1960's and '70's, as he puts it, I grew up on the last road in London. Grindrod explores the introduction of the green belt, and the various fights and developments it has gone through over the subsequent decades, as environmental and political arguments have affected planning decisions. Within this topic, he has somehow managed to wind around his personal memories of childhood, producing a memoir with a lot of heart. Full review...

Wild Kingdom: Bringing Back Britain's Wildlife by Stephen Moss

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Wildlife has been declining in Britain over the last few decades; it is an unfortunate by-product of human population growth, which in the modern world has increased significantly. Through this book Moss suggests a few ways in which we can start to bring back some of Britain's wildlife without compromising the human way of life: we can co-exist with nature. Full review...

The Big Bird Spot by Matt Sewell

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Recently I stood on a viewing platform at the RSPB reserve at Bempton Cliffs as a very helpful volunteer guided my sight line to one of the puffins who'd arrived on the cliffs in the last few days. Finally, I found one, after visually sorting through all the other birds on the precipitous cliff face. It was great fun and very rewarding. The third double-page spread in wild-life author and artist Matt Sewell's first book for children, The Big Bird Spot, shows some cliffs very like those at Bempton, but this time you're going to be looking for twenty three Little Auks, in amongst the guillemots, puffins, herring gulls and razorbills. Oh, and you're looking for a pair of binoculars too: our bird watcher is very careless, because you're going to have to find them in every picture. Full review...

Ethics for a Full World or, Can Animal-Lovers Save the World? by Tormod V Burkey

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Burkey argues that man's current practices are outside the realms of nature. He is no longer part of the ecosystem, but instead exists above it through his dominating ways. He is himself distanced even further by advancement in technologies, industry, money and all the pollution that comes with them. The natural world, Burkey argues, no longer exists for man because he has altered it by such things. Indeed, global warming has caused climate change, which, if it continues, will make the world unrecognisable. For the world to become fuller, for it to be a world that seeks to provide for the needs of every living thing, then it needs to change. Full review...

Build a ... Butterfly by Kiki Ljung

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I love butterflies: they're one of the delights of my garden and it's always a pleasure when there are children there and they see a butterfly close up, possibly for the first time, as it rests on a flower. Kiki Ljung has given us the opportunity to learn about butterflies and also to build a 3D model of our own. The book is primarily aimed at the five to eight year old age group, but I have to confess that I had a great deal of fun building my own painted lady. I learned quite a bit too! Full review...

Foxes Unearthed: A Story of Love and Loathing in Modern Britain by Lucy Jones

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

As one of the largest predators left in Britain, the fox is captivating: a comfortably familiar figure in our country landscapes; an intriguing flash of bright-eyed wildness in our towns. Yet no other animal attracts such controversy, has provoked more column inches or been so ambiguously woven into our culture over centuries, perceived variously as a beautiful animal, a cunning rogue, a vicious pest and a worthy foe. As well as being the most ubiquitous of wild animals, it is also the least understood. Here Lucy Jones investigates the truth about foxes – delving into fact, fiction, folklore and her own history with the creatures. Discussing the debate on foxes, Jones asks what our attitudes towards foxes says about us, and our relationship with the natural world. Full review...

My First Animals by Aino-Maija Metsola

4star.jpg For Sharing

Get used to two simple words if you have a child, What's That? You will hear it over and over and over again. If you are lucky they are pointing at something that you actually know – chair, hat, my sense of regret. Sometimes they will point at something that is not too familiar. Here the parental practise of making something up comes into play – it's a bird type thing. Books that show images of items, colours or animals may seem a little dull to an adult, but to a toddler learning about the world they are a who's who of what's that. Full review...

Amazing Animal Babies by Chris Packham and Jason Cockcroft

3.5star.jpg Emerging Readers

Many children love animals, but they love baby animals even more. Would you rather watch a dog or watch a puppy? A cat or a kitten? A meerkat or a smaller meerkat? The answer is a no brainer to most children who enjoy the wide-eyed stumbling of youth that is not dissimilar to their own. However, someone needs to give them the facts about baby animals and who better than wildlife presenter Chris Packham? Full review...

Pairs in the Garden by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and Lorna Scobie

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Pairs in the garden is a fun book/game hybrid for little fingers into creepy crawlies. It's a lift-the-flap book with a difference, because not only do you get to see what's underneath, you then must see if you can find a matching pair. But beware! You cannot just use process of elimination because there are 7 flaps on each page, but only 3 pairs to find. One poor creature is all alone with no partner. Full review...

Knowledge Encyclopedia: Animal! by DK

4.5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

The encyclopedia may be an informative type of book, but it's not always the most interesting. A series of dry facts plastered all over the page with nary an image in sight. This dry type of learning is never going to work with some of our modern youth, more used to spending time looking for imaginary animals on their phones, than researching real ones in a book. If you want to capture their attention, you must first draw their eyes. DK have attempted this in one of the most colourful and vibrant encyclopedias you are likely to see. Full review...

A Tale of Trees: The Battle to save Britain's Ancient Woodland by Derek Niemann

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Ancient British woodland is something very special indeed. It captures our imagination, connects us to nature and fuels our creativity. The British have an almost symbiotic relationship with woodland and most of us have a small local patch where we can get away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. It's hard to imagine life without our native woods, and yet in the 40 years following the war we lost more ancient woodland than in the previous 400. The destruction was large-scale and merciless and by 1985, we'd already lost a third of our ancient woodland. Predictions for the future were bleak: find a way to halt the decline or there will be nothing left outside nature reserves by 2020. Full review...

Planet Earth II by Stephen Moss

5star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Planet Earth II is the official companion to the upcoming BBC wildlife documentary series of the same name. Our understanding of the world around us has reached a new level, courtesy of ground-breaking technology that gives us unparalleled access to a diverse range of environments and a sneak peek into previously hidden worlds. The book looks at six vastly different environments: Jungles, Mountains, Deserts, Grasslands, Islands and Cities and showcases some of the amazing creatures that live in each one. Full review...

Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family by Cameron Bloom and Bradley Trevor Greive

5star.jpg Biography

Cameron and his wife, Sam, had been leading a very active, adventurous life. Even after the birth of their three sons they wanted to continue their adventures, so they decided to travel to Thailand for a family holiday. They were having a brilliant time until, suddenly, Sam was involved in a dreadful, almost fatal, accident. The accident left her paralysed and, because of the sudden and extremely severe impact on her life she slid quickly into a very deep and dark depression. Cameron feared for his family's future, and his wife's life, until one day a small abandoned magpie chick came along, and managed to change everything. Full review...

The Book of Bees by Piotr Socha

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

The Book of Bees may look like a typical picture book, but it has a lot buzzing underneath the surface. It is adapted from the original Polish book Pszczoly. Packed to the brim with bee facts and figures and accompanied by the wonderful comic-style artwork of Piotr Socha, the book is an odd amalgam: part coffee table book/ nature encyclopaedia/factfile/picture book. Don't be fooled by its simple cover; The Bee Book is a treasure trove of information just waiting to 'bee' harvested! Full review...

Lesser Spotted Animals by Martin Brown

5star.jpg Confident Readers

There may be as many as 5,500 different species of mammal on our planet, but how many of those do we actually get to see and read about? 'Animal Books' are packed with cute pictures of tigers, elephants, monkeys and zebras, but what about their lesser-known neglected cousins? Don't they deserve a minute in the spotlight? Numbat, Solenodon, Zorilla, Onager and Linsang: Now is your time to shine! Full review...

Rainbow Dust: Three Centuries of Delight in British Butterflies by Peter Marren

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Peter Marren is a wildlife writer based in Wiltshire. His fascination with butterflies began when he was a child: he still remembers catching a Painted Lady in his hands at the age of five and it transferring some of its colours onto his palm. Rainbow dust, he dubbed it. 'It was a Nabokov moment because only he could put into words what most of us can only feel: the frankly sensual moment in a child's life when the full force of nature is felt for the first time.' Full review...

100 Facts Butterflies & Moths by Steve Parker

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Damn those bees. They're not the only flying creatures vanishing from our world at alarming rates, and the others, like butterflies and moths, are actually runners-up to Mr Bumble and his mysteriously dying ilk in pollinating plants. Plus they're more visually attractive. But even though this book has two nudges and a thanks given to the Butterfly Conservation body, that's certainly not the more notable feature of these pages. What stands out is the superlative content. Full review...

Sea Journal by Lisa Woollett

5star.jpg Popular Science

Over the course of a year Lisa Woollett invites us to go with her on her visits to various beaches in the British Isles, although 'visits' might make what happens sound a little too formal. Woollett knows her local beaches, and some further afield, in much the same way that a gardener knows their own plot. She's aware of minute changes, how the phase of the moon will affect the tide, what she can expect to find in the strandline and where it's come from. She delights in every variation of the weather and she's a mine of wonderful information from ancient myths to up-to-the-minute science. Full review...

Nature's Day: Out and About by Kay Maguire and Danielle Kroll

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I love books which encourage children to interact with nature - as opposed to a computer screen. I like to see them getting outdoors, preferably getting a bit dirty, being independent and getting excited about nature. A good teacher will inspire children, but Nature's Day: Out and About provides support and encouragement in equal measures and might just be what a child needs. Full review...

Pattern Play: Cut, Fold and Make Your Own 3D Animal Models by Danielle Kroll and Nghiem Ta

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Here's a neat idea for you. Provide pages with animal prints on one side - only by animal prints, I mean the sort of colours and pattern which you see on animals, not paw prints! Some are subtle and others are rather more in-your-face. On the reverse of these printed pages provide a cutting line so that you can cut and fold the paper and it becomes a 3D model of an animal. Provide some stickers which replicate faces, tails or beaks - or whatever else you feel needs highlighting - and number these so that they get into the right place. All you need to add to the mix is a pair of scissors, parental supervision if necessary for the cutting, a little imagination and you have hours of fun. Full review...

Penguins and Other Sea Birds by Matt Sewell

4.5star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

I've always been fascinated by Penguins: I think it's because they look so smart and striking, yet survive in extreme conditions, so the opportunity to review a book which contains fifty penguins and other seabirds was too good to miss. Just the pictures would have been enough - the minimalist watercolours of street artist and ornithologist Matt Sewell - but Sewell's whimsical wit and ability to teach without being preachy makes this a book to treasure. Full review...

Out There by Chris Townsend

4star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

Chris Townsend has been Out There as a long distance walker for almost four decades. For most of that time he has been equally out there as a champion of the outdoors. He is the author of many books, many accounts of his treks, and his web site and blogs receive many thousands of visits. Here, for the first time, he gathers his thoughts and experience into a single volume, singing a hymn of praise for the Wild, and stirring defence against human predation. Full review...

Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias, Ines Teixeira do Rosario, Bernardo P Carvalho and Lucy Greaves (translator)

4star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I'm on a mission: I want children - adults too - to spend a lot more time outside. I want them to have the benefits of fresh air, increasing their levels of vitamin D and the knowledge of what nature can offer them. I'd like the television, computers, mobile phones, video games and even books to be laid aside and attention given to what is available for free, but which - if we don't care for it - might not always be there. Fortunately the authors of Outside: A Guide to discovering Nature have the same ideas. Full review...

The Nature Explorer's Scrapbook by Caz Buckingham and Andrea Pinnington

5star.jpg Animals and Wildlife

An activity book, but not as you know it is what it says on the back cover - and I have to agree. Here at Bookbag we tend to avoid 'activity books' as they usually have soft covers, lots of stickers and they're the sort of thing you pick up at the supermarket checkout in the hope that it will buy you an hour or two's peace in the school holidays. The Nature Explorer's Handbook is a different beast altogether. It's part album in which you're going to collect and store your own finds, part explanation of the best practices of how you should go about this and part nature guide. It's a substantial hardback book with an elastic band to keep it shut - as it's really going to get quite bulky when your collection grows. Production values for the book are high - this really is something which will be treasured for years. Full review...

The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs by Andrea Pinnington and Caz Buckingham

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

Take a well-put-together board book (don't worry about it being a board book - no one is going to say that they’re a bit too old for a board book once they see it), add exquisite pictures of a dozen birds - one on each double-page spread - and then fill in the details. You'll need the name of the bird in English and Latin and a description of the bird in words which a child can understand but which won't patronise an adult. Then you'll need details of where the bird is found, what it eats, where it nests, how many eggs it lays, how the male and female adults differ and their size. Then you need a 'Did you know?' fact and this needs to be something which will interest children, but which adults might not know either. Does it sound simple? Well it isn't, but 'The Little Book of Woodland Bird Songs' does it perfectly. And there's a bonus, but I'll tell you about that in a moment. Full review...