Changing the way we view the natural world
Adventures of a Young Naturalist: The Zoo Quest Expeditions By David Attenborough Two Roads £25
‘My plan was simple,’ writes Sir David Attenborough of the initial concept for Zoo Quest, his first natural history television programme. The plan involved filming expeditions to biodiversity hotspots and bringing back animals that would make a studio appearance before starting a new life at London Zoo. At that point, the plan did not involve a 63-and-counting-year career devising and presenting cutting-edge documentaries, but the stunning fact is that if you remember a time when Sir David wasn’t bringing nature to the small screen, you probably also remember George VI on the throne. The memoirs in this new compilation spring from the page as fresh as the day they were written, full of trademark wit and adventurous spirit. His light touch makes this a book for everyone – I loved it, and my six-year-old listened to excerpts with avid attention.
Amy-Jane Beer Naturalist and writer
Blowfish’s Oceanopedia By Tom Hird Atlantic Books £17.99
This book’s cover promises ‘291 extraordinary things you didn’t know about the sea’. And it delivers – I was unaware that male lobsters pee on each other to settle territorial disputes or that herring communicate by farting. But it’s much more than just a collection of pub quiz facts. The text is packed with proper science, brought alive by marine biologist, Tom ‘the Blowfish’ Hird’s entertainingly blokey turn of phrase. What other encyclopaedia would describe the lamprey as “the toilet plunger from hell”? Pete Dommett Nature writer
Encyclopedia of Whales, Dolphins and Porpoises By Erich Hoyt Firefly Books £30
This latest book by renowned cetacean researcher Erich Hoyt enters a crowded marketplace. Is there room for another? The answer is an emphatic yes, as this comprehensive treatment of the world’s cetaceans is detailed, informative, and well-illustrated – with a host of excellent photographs and accurate illustrations in the species accounts. I’d have liked to see the latter supplemented with surface profiles to help practical identification, but that’s a minor quibble. Jon Dunn Author and wildlife guide