Saturday, June 26, 2010

Black Bear: North America's Bear


Put very simply - bears are cool.  Bears in a zoo, however, are very boring.  I've never seen a bear in captivity do anything but roll up and sleep, so we're basically left staring at a big ball of fur.  Steven Swinburne takes a much more interesting approach, venturing out to locate active bears to photograph and study.  We'll have to content with living vicariously through his travels because I like to keep a safe distance between myself and animals this large and toothy.

I like that the four chapters in the book all offer different types of information on black bears.  Contrary to other non-fiction animal books, this one includes some first hand accounts of the author's adventures, instead of just giving us the straight facts to memorize. Of course, all the chapters include some terrific bear photographs.  Combine those with Stephen's interesting stories and you have a terrific book about bears.   

The first chapter is a personal recounting of the his first chance to cuddle with some live bear cubs.  Chapter two gives us a bit of a history lesson on how bears graduated from wild animals to tourist attraction in Yellowstone National Park. In the third chapter, the author visits Ben Kilham, a man who has been helping to raise abandoned bear cubs since 1993.  The final chapter finishes up the book with some great tips on the signs to look for to know if bears have been around.

If you have an interest in these fascinating animals, definitely give this one a shot. This book pulls double duty by being informative and interesting.  You learn the bare facts and get some great personal stories from the author - the best of both worlds. 
Review copy provided by Boyds Mills Press. 

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