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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wild Animals of the North, by Dieter Braun. Flying Eye Books, New York. 2016. $40.00 all ages

"When night falls, the barn owl awakens and hunts for its favorite meal: shrews and field mice. Its pair of extraordinary eyes and its impressive hearing help it hunt in the deep black night. This is how it can see the slightest of movements made by a mouse on the ground even under a thick layer of snow. When two barn owls find one another, they stay together ..."

This is a book that is sure to hold my attention again and again. It sits on my coffee table, and is likely to be there for months. It is absolutely compelling for the images that adorn each of its pages.

Beautifully designed and illustrated, it is an introduction to many animals, all native to the northern part of our world. It is divided into three sections: North America, Europe, and Asia. The continents offer up an endless array of animals; feathered and furry, land animals and those that live in the water, large and small. They are extremely diverse and we learn more about them as we pore over the pages.

As we go, we also learn something about the geography of the three regions and how that helps determine the animals that are indigenous to each. You will be astounded by their beauty and their variety, by the expression and movement that is shown with stunning clarity in Mr. Braun's depictions of their grace and appeal.

The double page spreads show one close-up depiction and one that indicates their habitat. Many (but not all) have descriptive paragraphs with pertinent information. All have the Latin name shown alongside the familiar name. You will recognize some, not others. Many are endangered already, or threatened with extinction. Every reader is sure to be interested in each of the pages for its sleek forms and earth-toned images. I would love to have one (or more) on the wall in my house.

Your family and guests will spend countless hours poring over the pages, and learning about animals of the northern hemisphere. Point of interest: this is the first book. The next, which will soon be published in English, introduces the animals of the Southern Hemisphere: South America, Africa, and Australia. Can't wait to see it, too.

An index, with a further illustration of each, will be helpful and repeats both common and Latin name.

"Polar Bear// Ursus maritimus

Native to the northern polar region, polar bears are the largest land-dwelling carnivores in the world. They are also in their element in the water as they are excellent long distance swimmers and can travel five kilometres an hour, but prefer to hunt their prey on land. Different kinds of seals and young or weakened walruses should be wary when the 'white giant' is hungry. Incidentally, its coat is not strictly speaking white: it only appears that way because of the reflection of the sun. The hairs of its outer coat are usually hollow and translucent and the skin underneath is black."

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