A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts is a fantastic read for children in grades 5 through 8. It tells the story of field biologist George Schaller, and follows many of his studies, from the gorillas in West Africa to the tigers in India. Read on to find out about a chance to win a copy of this book!
A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's struggle to save the last great beastsTuner has created a vivid, moving biography of George Schaller, a researcher who transformed field biology with his studies of gorillas, tigers, lions, and other wild creatures around the globe. In the nineteenth-century, biologists studied exotic animals by with the approach: “find it, kill it, examine the corpse.” Schaller knew he could study these endangered animals by observing them in the wild. After his initial studies in Alaska, Schaller worked for two years in the Belgian Congo studying the mountain gorillas. Next, he observed lions in Tanzania for three years, tracked the elusive snow leopard through the Himalayas for six years, and spend five years working with the pandas in China. Middle school students will like the way this biography moves from place to place. Each chapter focuses on a different animal, and Turner creates suspense with her descriptions of the challenges that Schaller faced.
By Pamela S. Turner
NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2008.
Ages 10 – 14
I particularly liked the way that you get a sense of Schaller living in the wild with his family. George's wife Kay and young sons moved first to India and then to Africa with him. Kay and the boys experienced first hand many of the wild animals George was studying.
"One female cheetah raised two cubs near Seronera (the Schaller's home in Tanzania), and George and Kay grew to know her well. They heard the mother cheetah call her cubs with chirps and chirrs, sounding more like a bird than a cat. When the cubs were half-grown, kay saw the mother cheetah bring her daughters a live gazelle fawn. The cubs needed to learn the family business: chase, knock down, grab by the throat, and hold until dead. After several inept tries the cubs managed to knock the fawn down, but their mother had to handle the killing."This is a wonderful book for kids to read to see that you can follow your dreams. From a young age, Schaller loved animals. He found a way to pursue his interests, developing his knowledge and leading scientists from all over the world in developing new respect for the natural world.
A Life in the Wild has won the 2008 Golden Kite Award for children's nonfiction from the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators, as well as the Northern California Book Award for Children's Literature. For other reviews, you can see Chasing Ray or the National Science Teachers Association.
Fantastic Giveaway: Would you like your own copy of A Life in the Wild? Leave a comment (click the word "comments" below), or email Great Kid Books by June 7th. Tell me why you think your child would like to read it. For a bonus entry, email me the email addresses of 5 friends you think would like to know about my blog. I'll do a random drawing and send you a copy of this fantastic book!
Find the book at the Berkeley Public Library and the Oakland Public Library. You can buy it online at IndieBound independent bookstores or Amazon.