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Saturday, July 10, 2010

So, What Do YOU Know about Javelinas?

TITLE: Javelina (Have-uh-WHAT?)
AUTHOR: Gene K. Garrison
ISBN: 978-1-4528725-3-7
GENRE: Children's


This 38-page book about javelinas, wild pig-like animals that roam the Sonoran Desert in Arizona and Mexico, is chock-full of of excellent photographs.

The author took 20 of them. Another photographer, Al Brown, is credited with 12. This is the second edition, revised. Six pages have been added and the photographs upgraded.

Keep in mind that the book is nonfiction. There are no talking beasts. They simply live their lives raising families, foraging for food, avoiding enemies, napping wherever they please, and raiding gardens. They are not cuddly, sweet pets. They can be fierce when they need to be, and not everyone is pleased to see them around. There are others, however, who feel privileged to observe this animals in action.

The author, Gene K. Garrison, is one of the latter. She kept a camera on a cabinet beneath a window and very quietly, and without any sudden movements, picked it up whenever she noticed wildlife at a small waterhole outside. That's how the closeups came into being. She said, "I didn't mind being patient because I was having fun." Al Brown, too, enjoyed photographing javelinas in his yard. His were not as skittish as Garrison's, probably because they had been born in a neighborhood where houses were closer together.

Here's an excerpt:

They hear every sound —
footsteps making crunching noises
on gravel, squirrels scurrying,
a turtle plodding across the land.
They smell all of these things,
including us.

There is also a vocabulary list at the back of the book with phonetic pronunciation and definitions that children can understand. In some cases, adults could use a little help in this area. For instance," MESQUITE (mes-KEET) — a desert tree with fern-like leaves."

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