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The Golden Swift by Lev Grossman. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2022

August 18, 2022 Comments off

This highly imaginative ecological fantasy is the sequel to The Silver Arrow which is also reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

The Silver arrow is a train which can communicate with humans with artificial intelligence and travel all over the world on secret railway lines which even go through the air. The train is controlled by The Great Secret Intercontinental Railway and was given to 10 year old Tom and 12 year old Kate for Kate’s birthday by their uncle Herbert who is a billionaire with ecological interests in endangered animals.

Uncle Herbert has disappeared and a new state of the art train called the Golden Swift has appeared as a rival to the Silver Arrow and controlled by a boy from Kates class called Jake and his friend Wren. They too are saving animals especially the Scottish Lynx which disappeared from Scotland centuries ago. They want to reestablish the ecological balance by returning the lynx to Scotland but is this a wise thing to do?

Lev Grossman uses the return to nature of the Demilitarised Zone between Nth and South Korea and the reintroduction of Wolves to a USA national Park as examples of how humans can return the ecological balance and food chains to the natural world. But is this what the natural world need?

The animals are not impressed by what humans have done to the environment and say every animal knows to run when humans are around. They express the opinion that humans should leave the environment alone and don’t deserve to be part of the natural world.

How is it all going to pan out? One thing for sure is this is not the last we have heard from this series.

Well written, crazy imagination and serious talk of the natural world. It poses the thought that can humans change their attitude and spoiling ways and save the environment and the life that inhabits it. We hope so.

It took me a time to get into this novel but as the plot developed I got more keen until the excellent ending. Read it and see what I mean.

Fourteen Wolves by Catherine Barr, illus. Jenni Desmond. Pub. Bloomsbury, 2021.

May 6, 2021 Comments off

This is positively the best non fiction picture book I have read for many a year and it is about wolves an animal that features heavily in literature and myth and mythology of human beings. It is also a success story for humankind who are so often, in fact nearly always responsible for habitat destruction and the cause of species disappearing.

In the 1930’s the wolves disappeared from Yellowstone national park due to human beings and the ecosystem of the park started to collapse. Elks started to thrive as they were the food of the wolves. Elks ate all the shrubbery and grassland and started on the trees. Subsequently the whole cycle of life disappeared from the park including birds fish insects, everything.

In 1995 14 wolves were transferred from Canada as a first shipment of wolves back to Yellowstone and the fate of each of these wolves is monitored in this book. The wolves formed into breeding packs and scattered throughout the park along with other wolves who were brought in later.

As a result of this the life cycle habitat and environment of Yellowstone changed back to the way it was before.

The book is divided into three parts – Coming Home in which the wolves are transplanted back and how they adapt to their new environment. A New Yellowstone which tells how the park changed, and Understanding How Nature Works shows the food chain of the park and how all the living things there are connected.

Magnificently illustrated by Jenni Desmond which enhances Catherine Barr’s storytelling. A first class package that is essential for school libraries and for the home. Science and human behaviour at it’s best. A rewilding story.