Tom McCarthy has one of the coolest jobs. The American from Vancouver, Washington is a wildlife biologist dedicated to studying and protecting snow leopards in Mongolia's Altai Mountains. We get to learn about his work when we travel with a team of researchers in Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia with text by Sy Montgomery and photographs by Nic Bishop.
It is easy to imagine you are really in Mongolia as you read Saving the Ghost of the Mountain, for Montgomery and Bishop show the way, introducing us to the Mongolian people that they meet and depicting isolated camps on the plains below rugged mountains. They also describe the hard climbs up the mountains to search for signs of snow leopards and their prey. They search for "signs" because actual sightings of snow leopards are very rare. That's why the big cats are called "ghosts" by the locals.
Saving the Ghost of the Mountain is classified as a children's book, but adults who enjoy nature books should not miss it. The text could easily be an article in National Geographic, and the photographs are stunning. It is actually more fun to read than most NG articles, as we learn how to erect a ger (a sort of Mongolian tent), about analyzing snow leopard scat, and about setting camera traps to photograph the cats. Nothing about this book is exclusively for kids. It is a great addition to any library.
I'm now checking out Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea by the same authors.
Montgomery, Sy. Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009. ISBN 9780618916450.