________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 6 . . . .November 12, 2004


Going Wild: Amazing Animal Adventures Around the World.

Brian Keating.
Calgary, AB: Fifth House (Distributed by Fitzhenry & Whiteside), 2004.
48 pp., pbk. & cl., $14.95 (pbk.), $19.95 (cl.).
ISBN 1-894856-22-8 (pbk.), ISBN 1-894856-50-3 (cl.).

Subject Heading:
Animals-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.

Review by Gillian Richardson.

***1/2 /4

Reviewed from uncorrected proofs.



But the penguin story I want to tell you happened on the last day of a trip I took into the Antarctic in 2002. We had already visited several penguin populations, but I had never dreamed of a colony of the size that we were about to see.

We were at a place called Deception Island, and the seas were calm. We got into our small boats, called Zodiacs, and went ashore. As we approached the black lava beach, we noticed there was nothing but penguins as far as we could see. Every wave that rolled in brought penguins with it. And every wave that went out took penguins away...

...I was reminded of the hustle and bustle of the city during rush hour, except this 'city' was in one of the most remote places in the world. And we were the only ones not wearing a tuxedo.


From the word 'amazing' in its title, to the intriguing list of chapter headings (eg. Petrel Puke and Headless Kittiwakes) and on through up-close and personal experiences with nature, this book delivers on its promise. Naturalist Brian Keating recounts "the scariest day of my life" as he's almost eaten by lions in Zimbabwe, the malodorous discovery of a captured petrel's defense mechanism, the serenity of an Arctic night with only wolves for company. His engaging writing style places readers squarely in the midst of the action and creates an irresistible sense of wonder:

One wolf...answered me with a howl of his own. This was an exceptionally powerful moment for me! It was that summer on Ellesmere that planted a deep seed for my desire to explore wilderness areas.

     Ten adventures await readers as Keating takes them "around the world" to a secret watering hole in Zimbabwe where lions and wild dogs roam, the outback in Australia, mountainous islands in Norway, a rainforest in Guyana that is home to more than 50 bat species, both of the world's polar regions, a national park in Borneo, and the Galapagos. Readers can spend a night absorbing the sights and sounds in a hippo sanctuary. If readers aren't already fascinated by and concerned for the natural world, this book will have them itching to become involved in wildlife conservation.

     In his introduction, Keating shares his personal awakening, at age 12, at the sighting of a scarlet tanager. A dedicated birder ever since, his career as a naturalist led to his current job as Director of Calgary Zoo's Conservation Outreach program that tackles projects worldwide. Each anecdote presents four pages of richly-detailed description, Keating's (and wife, Dee's) superb photos and sidebars to define challenging vocabulary or zero in on little known aspects of the animals' behavior. Readers are treated to a peek at 'Brian's Notes": "Borneo's so-called 'pygmy' or 'dwarf' elephants are said to be smaller, tamer, and better-tempered than their cousin on mainland Asia and Sumatra."

     There is no down-side to this book. A Teacher's Guide is provided for the Grade 5-7 curriculum. A list of conservation organizations and websites will satisfy a young reader's urge to learn more. Going Wild was hard to put down, but the best part is knowing this is only the first in a series of eight titles.

Highly Recommended

BC's Gillian Richardson is a freelance writer and former teacher-librarian.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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