Thursday, June 18, 2009

Non-Fiction: Squirrels of North America by Tamara Eder

At first blush, Squirrels of North America (Lone Pine) sounds almost ridiculously esoteric. Squirrels. In North America. Super specific and about a topic that -- let’s face it -- most of us give little thought. (ie: squirrels.) However, not long after my initial scoff, I spent an enchanted hour or so lost in the pages of what is essentially a field guide. That fascination is understandable and to be encouraged, especially in the young. As author Tamara Eder points out, for most of us, there is not a lot of nature that can be observed right in your own backyard:
In this time when most wildlife in North America is confined to national parks and protected areas, we often overlook the wildness in our own backyards. Few animals have adapted to human urbanization, and of those that have, almost none are mammals.
And then there are squirrels.
The squirrels’ ability to thrive in our urban domain might be the reason that many people disregard and even disdain squirrels. If you look more closely at these fellow mammals, however, you will discover extremely sociable and familiar creatures.
And look closely Eder does. Sixty-six species are grouped and color-coded, regions indicated, weight and general appearance noted. Illustrations include points to look for when making identifications. (Especially important with some of the chipmunk types, which seem very alike until the details are pointed out.

A charming and well-executed book, Squirrels of North America is sure to please the amateur naturalist in your life.

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