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14 april 2015

Hugh Warwick's Hedgehog is among the very best of the excellent Reaktion Animal series. Reaktion Animal authors begin from varying degrees of expertise on their animals; some of the books are explorations of new territory, and prior knowledge is neither necessary or sufficient for a good book about a given animal. But Hugh Warwick really knows his hedgehogs, and the resulting book is marvelous.     read more

7 april 2015

The late Walter Dean Myers was remarkable for his consistency, writing books in a number of modes and genres, for different age groups; he always delivered something readable and often something especially memorable. I first read some of his happier sport-themed books for younger readers, and then some of his better-known texts with themes crime and war. But I hadn't read Scorpions, another crime/gang novel but, like Myers's other books, of high quality and sure in its achievement of what it's after.     read more

6 april 2015

Daniel Heath Justice, like many of the Reaktion Animal authors, suggests that few of us have seen the animal he's writing about. Justice had never really seen a badger till he arranged to meet one in an Oklahoma zoo, in preparation for writing Badger. I haven't seen a wild badger, and can't remember seeing one in a zoo. Oddly enough, the creature may be theoretically so common (it's not endangered in the American West) that one walks past it in zoos thinking it mundane, even though one is much likelier to see alpacas and ostriches in the Texas hinterland than badgers.     read more

5 april 2015

The Alchemist is one of the great plays in the English language, different from anything Shakespeare ever wrote, better in some ways, colder and more limited and more cynical in others.     read more