Monday, September 27, 2010

Slow down and smell the kakapo parrot

Ok, here’s me -- a new cart of books to preview before they head off to Doucette Library staff who make books shelf-ready.  It’s a pretty full cart and even though, God knows, I try to read everything that comes into the Doucette Library, it’s just not possible.

This means I have to be very selective about what I look at, what I scan and what I will really read more thoroughly.  And even then, more often than not, I get sucked into a book, initially scanning and then going back and reading the whole thing.

Like Kakapo rescue : saving the world’ strangest parrot by Sy Montgomery (639.97 MoK 2010).  First off, I love this series, Scientists in the field and am very familiar with the format (fabulous photographs and very well written, informative text with a great sense of narrative) so thought I’d just take a quick look and move on.  From the cover and first photos of these beautiful, cute-as-can-be birds with the most endearing characteristics, I slowed down to read the captions.  Then slowed a little more to read the first bit of the first couple of chapters but finally gave up the ‘scanning’ and settled in by page 22 of chapter 4, Secrets of the Nest, finished the book, and then went back to read the bits I missed.


I just love how I’m drawn into the story of a group of researchers/conservationists trying to save this beautiful species which is on the edge of extinction (numbers less than 100).  There are trials and tribulations with every death and a sense of satisfaction and joy with every birth.  I got to know what it takes to do this job and from what I can gather there’s not a whole lot of glory, lots and lots and lots of sweat and sleepless nights but a great sense of fulfillment to be part of this field.

Even though this particular endeavor is to save an endangered bird living in New Zealand, I think it brings home the importance of science, what it takes to be a scientist involved in this kind of work, how scientists think and their methods for research plus gives us an opportunity to draw on our own scientists working with endangered species.  Pair this with a book about peregrine falcons and you have the makings of a unit that could encompass science, environmental issues, social studies and maybe even math, connecting a local concern to a bigger picture on a global scale.

And yes, kakapo parrots do smell good apparently, “sweet and earthy, like honey mixed with peat.”

Now back to my cart of books for just a quick look…

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