Learning to Be Wild (A Young Reader’s Adaptation): How Animals Achieve Peace, Create Beauty, and Raise Families

Roaring Brook. Aug. 2023. 224p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250838254.
Gr 6 Up–Some things are inherited from generation to generation, like genes. Other things are learned by culture. Every group has a culture, be it humans, chimpanzees, macaws, or sperm whales. Adapted from ecologist Safina’s Becoming Wild, this book is divided into the same three parts, but presented in a different order: Achieving Peace, Creating Beauty, and Raising Families. The short, direct sentences intersperse Safina’s travels with research, which allows for smooth, easy-to-follow reading. The case for protecting animals—and their cultures—is strong throughout the text, as Safina demonstrates what is lost when culture is threatened or disappears altogether. Animal-loving readers will enjoy the storytelling and photographs that bring further life to the people and creatures introduced in the book. However, there are some missed opportunities to make the text more relatable to a younger audience. Analogies such as “a pressure cooker waiting to explode” or lamenting a time before the information age, something digital natives might not grasp, may alienate some of the intended audience. The lack of back matter or suggested reading might make it a difficult sell as a research aide for students.
VERDICT Scientists-in-the-making will enjoy this glimpse into future possibilities.

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