Friday, November 01, 2013

The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal by Sy Montgomery

I'd like to get a job writing nonfiction nature books for children. Maybe I'd be assigned to great places like the Pantanal Wetlands in South America. I'd especially like it if I got to work with naturalists studying secretive wildlife. It would be worth fighting off the ticks and mosquitoes to get to see what so few people see. Author Sy Montgomery and photographer Nic Bishop were so lucky. They visited and worked with Patricia Medici, whose work is described in The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal.

Not everyone knows tapirs, stout mammals that look like a cross between elephants and pigmy hippopotami but which are most closely related to horses. Of the four surviving species, three live in South America and one in Asia. Little is known about the lives of these rare animals, whose babies resemble watermelons, so the work of Brazilian biologist Medici and her team is innovative and highly important to wildlife conservation.

Montgomery and Bishop have traveled to remote locations in the past. In Saving the Ghost of the Mountain, they report on their work with scientists studying snow leopards in Mongolia. In that and their new book, they vividly describe the daily work of dedicated biologists. I found both books fascinating, much like watching an episode of PBS Nature.

Montgomery and Bishop's books are usually shelved in children's libraries, where many of the best books can be found.

Montgomery, Sy. The Tapir Scientist: Saving South America's Largest Mammal. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2013. 80p. ISBN 9780547815480.

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