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review 2017-06-17 00:45
Am I no longer afraid of robots?
The Wild Robot - Peter Brown

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown has both fascinated me and frightened me for at least 2 months now. I kept seeing the cover when I was shelving or visiting other branches and the image of the single robot standing on top of a pile of rocks kept leaping out at me. I finally gave up the fight when I decided that middle grade fiction was the way to cure my book reading blues. I'm glad that I did because The Wild Robot was a lot of fun to read (and it turns out it's the start of a series!) made even more amazing by the superb illustrations supplied by the author. [A/N Peter Brown is no stranger to creating books as he's a well-known children's picture book author/illustrator but this is his first attempt at middle grade fiction.] This isn't your standard 'robot story' but instead it's a look at climate change, the ever-evolving landscape of our world with the advent of technology, and what it means to be truly alive. In short, it's beautiful, thought-provoking literature. The illustrations peppered throughout enhance the story by adding depth to the characters (I love that they're black and white.). Roz is doing the best she can given her circumstances which is really all that anyone can do. The only difference is that she's an artificial lifeform living on an island without any humans. How will this shape her? Will her presence have any effect on the local fauna and flora? Brown's commentary on our world is perfectly geared for a younger audience but it wouldn't go amiss for the adult crowd either. ;-) I can't wait to see how this story continues to develop as Peter carries on with the series. 10/10


For a look at the book from the author's perspective check out this awesome post written by Peter about his process of getting his book published: "The Wild Robot lives!".

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2017-06-01 07:54
Earth Matters: How Soil Underlies Civilization by Richard D. Bardgett
Earth Matters: How soil underlies civilization - Richard Bardgett

Soil plays an important part in our daily lives. Entire societies have risen, and collapsed, through the management and mismanagement of soil. This book is for those who know little about soil and want to know more about soil and the ways that humans depend on it and transform it. The author takes a look at the diversity of life within the soil and the vast range of roles that life plays in maintaining the health and fertility of soil. The author also takes a look at how humans have modified the soil (agriculture, cities, war) and looks at the future, exploring ways to sustainably manage soils.

This is a short, interesting, basic introduction on how soil affects us and has been affected by us. I would have liked more diagrams would have been useful, as well as more details about the individual subjects, but this is specifically an introductory text so that is perhaps asking for too much. There are also too many long, run-on sentences that could use an editor. There is minimal technical language in this book, making it ideal for non-scientists.

The author states that his goal is to "awaken awareness of the many ways that soil has, and continues to affect, our lives." I believe he may have accomplished this goal provided this book gains a wide readership - maybe part of a high school or collage recommended reading list?


Other Recommended Book:


  • Dirt:  The Erosion of Civilizations by David R Montgomery
  • Terra Preta:  How the World's Most Fertile Soil Can Help Reverse Climate Change and Reduce World Hunger by Ute Scheub, Haiko Pieplow, Hans-Peter Schmidt, Kathleen Draper.



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review 2017-05-04 09:03
Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future by Peter D. Ward
Under a Green Sky: Global Warming, the Mass Extinctions of the Past, and What They Can Tell Us About Our Future - Peter D. Ward

An interesting and informative book in which the author investigates the mystery of what caused the various great extinctions in the past, and how this relates to the current environmental situation today. This scientific mystery story involves everything from squabbling scientist, volcanoes, "evil" bacteria, poisonous gases and asteroids to oceanic convection currents and ice core data. The book was published in 2007. I'm not certain how outdated and thus accurate the data is in light of any new evidence. However, I found the book to be an interesting and entertaining reading experience, with food for thought and things to look up.



Other, Related Recommended Books:


  • The Emerald Planet: How Plants Changed History by David Beerling
  • Out of Thin Air: Dinosaurs, Birds, and Earth's Ancient Atmosphere by Peter D. Ward
  • Oxygen: The Molecule That Made the World by Nick Lane
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review 2017-04-28 07:14
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative by Florence Williams
The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative - Florence Williams

An interesting book that takes a look at why getting into nature is so essential for our health and well being.  She takes a look at how nature, or the lack thereof, impacts our lives, as well as specific topics like PTSD and ADHD, which can be improved by spending time outdoors.  The book contains interesting information, but lacks focus and I found the authors overly chatty narrative style annoying.

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review 2017-04-13 11:08
What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe
What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins - Jonathan Balcombe

A beautifully written book that summarises the life of fishes - what they see, hear, small, taste, touch, navigate, feel.  If they feel pain and if they are aware.  Do they have fun?  The author also discusses what a fish thinks and if they are intelligent and if they can use tools.  The social contracts, co-operation and fish democracy involved in fishey lives, as well as the strange variety of breeding and parenting methods make for interesting reading.  As the author says:  "fishes are individuals", and he does a good job in showing why he thinks that.  The book contains minimal amount of fluff and so many interesting goodies.  It is well worth the reading time, even if you aren't a fish fanatic.  The book comes with a nice selection of colour photographs.


PS:  Fishes like cuddles too. ;)


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