American Wolf by Nate Blakeslee is the most recent read in my effort to get through all the books I irresponsibly got via NetGalley last year and never read. Essentially, it’s the story of the wolf in America, focusing on “recent” events since the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone National Park in 1995. The book follows the lives of the wolves, as chronicled by a handful of avid (or obsessed?) wolf-watchers in the park over many years, as well as the political, cultural, and societal factors that impact wolves’ survival in the American West.
The most gripping parts of the book are Blakeslee’s reporting on the life of O-Six, a female wolf born in 2006 in the park. He succeeds in telling a gripping story of life and survival for wolves as they face both natural and man-made threats. It reads almost like a novel, and definitely paints a vivid picture of wolf society. I learned so much about wolves, the evolution of individual wolf packs, and the social interactions of what are clearly very intelligent and emotional animals.
Woven into the story is the political, societal, and legal context in which the wolf reintroduction and population management unfolded. It was interesting to read about the events through the 2000s and to understand how events I lived through (sequestration and the 2011 threat of a government shutdown, followed by an actual shutdown in 2013) impacted things across the country. It’s disturbing and yet unsurprising, especially having lived my entire adult life in the DC area, to read of the political nonsense–riders circumventing legal protections for wolves tacked on last minute to a must-pass spending bill in 2011, for example.
I couldn’t help but root for the wolves as I read the book, while I understand the legitimate concerns of residents of areas surrounding Yellowstone as they coped with rising wolf populations. I’m glad I read the book, and sorry it took me so long to actually pick it up to read. I give the book 4 stars, only subtracting one because I feel it starts out a little slowly and took some effort to get into. Persevere, though! It’s worth it!
I got both of these books last year sometime via NetGalley and had skimmed them myself but hadn’t read them to my kids until just this week. I can’t say I was super impressed with either, unfortunately. Now, let me say that I do think some of that comes from reading picture books on my Kindle – I’ve done it a handful of times now and I’m not planning to continue. It’s just not a format conducive to enjoying a picture book, in my opinion. I would LOVE to review more kids books, but they have to be hard copy or I can’t get into them. To my kids it’s “special” to read on Mommy’s Kindle, so they want to do more of it but… ugh.
So, everybody loves Rainbow Fish, right? What’s NOT to love about the original? You Can’t Win Them All, Rainbow Fish is a new(ish) (2017) book in the Rainbow Fish series and aims to teach another moral lesson — in this case, how not to be a sore loser, basically. Most kids are familiar with Rainbow Fish (I think each of my kids has come home from school with Rainbow Fish artwork at least once), so it’s a great way to keep them engaged and learning through a familiar character, but to me this one lacked the charm of the original. Worse, to me it seemed a little forced. Perhaps I’m remembering the original too rosily (is that a word?), but this just didn’t measure up for me. The kids were engaged, but haven’t asked to read it again. So, I give it two stars and I think I’d get a similar opinion from the kids.
The concept behind this book is fantastic – but at the risk of sounding repetitive, reading it on a Kindle is NOT. We live near DC, and though we don’t take the kids downtown much they were familiar enough with the landmarks to recognize them and get excited about places they’d been. They were especially thrilled with the page about the National History Museum because my husband took them there last week. That said, black and white pictures on a tiny screen made it virtually impossible to find the monsters in the pictures. The text, to me, was, well… fine. It’s a great introduction to DC landmarks and a potentially fun and engaging format for teaching young kids, but to me it falls into that very big basket of kids books that are just so-so and don’t particularly need to be revisited. Another two-star read.
So, on that cheery note I’m going to wrap up. I usually don’t post negative reviews because why? But these came from NetGalley and I figured it’s better to follow through and review even if it’s negative… so there you have it. Next time I write I’ll have something more positive to say.
We recently checked this book out from the library – I’m not sure who picked it out, because when it comes to my 4-year-old, it’s a big hodge-podge of stuff she likes the covers of and things my husband or I intentionally seek out for her. However we got our hands on it, I’m glad we did!
To be honest, I’m not sure if my kids are nearly as taken with the book as I am, but I have really enjoyed reading it to them a handful of times over the past two weeks. Essentially, the author takes a simple object — a rock — and shows how many diverse ways we see it around us, from the natural (lava!) to the man-made (stepping stones, stone fences for pastures). I might argue she left out “playground” with a picture of a rock climber, but I can let that one go 🙂
The artwork throughout is beautiful and eye-catching, and the text is beautifully simple; it’s easy enough to read to my toddler. At the end of the narrative, there are several pages over which the author explains each iteration of the rock throughout the book, which was wonderful to read/talk about with my 4-year-old. There’s also a glossary of terms at the very end, and I’m working on convincing my almost-7-year-old that she would actually find the book interesting (she’s skeptical of most anything she doesn’t pick out herself).
Also, I just discovered that this is part of a series! So now I’m excited to take a look at the author’s other books, too 🙂
5-stars, highly recommended!