Like Ackerman's The Moon by Whale Light (LJ 10/15/91), this is a collection of six essays previously published in such venues as the New Yorker and Cond Nast Traveler. In describing her search for endangered species in inaccessible places, Ackerman writes, "As a member of the species responsible for their downfall, I feel an urgent need to witness and celebrate them before they vanish." On low-lying French Frigate Shoals in Hawaii, she accompanies researchers with the Monk Seal Project. In the Amazon, she observes primatologists from American zoos reintroduce golden lion tamarind to the wild. On inaccessible Torishima (bird island), 580 kilometers south of Tokyo, Ackerman falls and cracks a rib climbing rocky cliffs to glimpse the courtship and nesting of short-tailed albatrosses. In California, she delicately tags butterflies so that the Monarch Project can study their migration. Engrossing reading for amateur naturalists, ideal for public library collections.-Laurie Tynan, Montgomery Cty.-Norristown P.L., Pa.
Ackerman calls herself an "earth ecstatic" and proves it by writing about nature with tremendous spirit, exuberant lyricism, and lively intelligence. Ackerman's love for animals, evident in "The Moon by Whale Light" (1991), is at the heart of this set of essays chronicling her adventures observing rare and endangered animals and habitats. In her introduction, Ackerman discusses extinction and why we should be concerned about it with commanding eloquence and striking common sense. Nature can and will "take care of itself," Ackerman assures us. What we need to concentrate on is our own future because every extinction we cause puts us at risk. Having said that, Ackerman moves on to rhapsodic accounts of such rare creatures as the Hawaiian monk seal; the short-tailed albatross, which only breeds on Torishima, a tiny, volcanic Japanese island; and the golden lion tamarin, the "most beautiful monkey in the world." Ackerman electrifies us with her all-embracing sense of life--its energy, beauty, danger, and magic. She is so filled with wonder that even after breaking three ribs climbing the cliffs of Torishima to see the last of the albatrosses, she lies on the earth, gazing up at the sky, and thinks, if her pain "is the toll that must be paid, then it was well spent." Ackerman is a devoted witness and a celebrant, and we're grateful for her ardor and her art.
Ackerman turns her gift for adventure and poetic description to a vast world of disappearing species and habitats. Her journeys lead to, among other places, the habitats of the golden lion tamarind in Brazil's rain forest, the monk seals of the Pacific's French Frigate Shoals, and the vital but threatened layover sites of the monarch butterfly. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
"A life-changing excursion, pleasing, and provocative to mind, body, and soul."San Francisco Chronicle
"This reader was left wondering which was more impressive, Ms. Ackerman's meticulous prose or her intrepid spirit."New York Times Book Review
"A work to savor...Ackerman brings to her work a poetic sensitivity that enchants while it informs...entrancing."Philadelphia Inquirer