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My Season with Penguins: An Antarctic Journal
ISBN: 9780395922910
Author: Webb, Sophie
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH)
Published: September 2000
Retail: $15.00    OUR PRICE: $2.99
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Binding Type: Hardcover
Annotation: Webb gives readers a vivid, frank, firsthand account of what it is like to spend a season in a land not yet affected by people yet populated for centuries by true dwellers of the Antarctic: the fearless, round-bellied, pink-footed, gliding, diving, utterly adept Adelie penguins.
Additional Information
Physical Information: 0.42" H x 10.31" L x 9.36" W 48 pages
Bargain Category: Upper Elementary, Science, Reference, Middle School, Geography, Animals
Grade level(s): 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring)
In journal format, biologist and artist Webb recounts her trip to Antarctica to study AdTlie penguins in their southernmost colony. Egg laying, hatching, and the care, feeding, and protecting of young is thoroughly explained. Webb's delightful watercolor sketches bring the information to life. The text is imaginative and saturated with a straightforward humor well matched to the illustrations. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2000 #6)
In journal format, biologist and artist Sophie Webb recounts her trip to Antarctica in the company of American researchers who study Ad lie penguins in McMurdo Sound, the location of the southernmost Ad lie penguin colony. The expedition occurs in the Antarctic summer, to coincide with the penguin breeding season. Egg laying, hatching, and the care, feeding and protecting of young is thoroughly explained. Webb's delightful watercolor sketches of penguin antics bring the information to life. She skillfully captures the appealing awkwardness of penguin physiology, particularly in several series illustrations where a dozen or so sketches deftly convey penguin motion and habits. Her accompanying text is imaginative and saturated with a straightforward humor well matched to the illustrations. Indeed, Webb's journal conveys so much more than just the facts: it is truly a field-based research journal, and her participation as a biologist, not just an artistic interpreter, is evident. She explains why scientists want to research these penguins in the first place, carefully documenting the actual questions guiding the scientists' work. She also explains the tools used by scientists to aid their research, and is particularly candid about the messy, smelly work of investigating animals. Webb's attention to detail goes beyond her scientific observations into a humorous commentary on life in the field: "Today...I wash my hair for the first time since we came out into the field. It feels great and I no longer smell like a penguin colony." Effortlessly switching between scientific and artistic matters of interest, Webb captures the humor and dedication of scientific researchers and the fascination of the objects of their scrutiny. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2000 August #1)
Invited to Antarctica in 1996 to study Adélie penguins, biologist and artist Webb (illustrator for A Guide to the Birds of Mexico and Northern Central America) returned with the makings of this intriguing if sometimes verbose journal. Peppered with piquant watercolor, gouache and graphite illustrations, the diary entries track her two-month stay in what is at times excessive detail, beginning with the account of the five-day journey from San Francisco to the U.S. base, McMurdo, on Ross Island. The incidental facts are often the most amusing: the travelers find sleep difficult due to the 24-hour daylight, they trek past Ernest Shackleton's still-intact 1908 expedition hut, and the artist discusses the difficulties of subzero weather (if a little alcohol isn't added to the paint, it turns to slush on paper). And of course once she gets to the penguins themselves, readers will be swept up in colorful and enthusiastic descriptions of their habitat, habits and antics, amplified by a generous sprinkling of artwork. Fully rendered vignettes of her subjects during an "ecstatic display" (a mating ritual), for instance, possess the deceptive ease of notebook sketches, while panoramic views, such as that from the camp down into the penguin colony, have the accomplished feel of landscape paintings. Overall, she delivers a compelling glimpse of life in a field camp, complete with lyrical descriptions ("Three Snow Petrels fly by, tracing the cliff edge in graceful arcs, brilliant white against the dark rocks and water") and gritty realism ("I forgot how much I hate going outside to pee when it's cold and windy"). Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2004 June #2)
This biologist and artist chronicles her two-month stay in Antarctica. "A compelling glimpse of life in a field camp," wrote PW. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2000 December)
Gr 4-8-Webb presents a great deal of scientific information through an effective blend of journal entries and illustrations. An enthusiastic traveler, she shares the trials (keeping paints from freezing in Antarctic temperatures, using a bitter-cold outhouse) and joys (seeing three snow petrels on Christmas) of her two-month expedition to study and sketch Ad lie penguins. Done in gouache and watercolor, the paintings range from scenes of mountains and moving ice to depictions of penguins engaged in typical behaviors. The art is always perfectly placed and extremely useful in interpreting the text. The one-page glossary is necessary, since some of the vocabulary is technical. By explicitly stating the questions to be studied by the scientists on the expedition, Webb offers a fine look at the scientific method in action. The artist/biologist also provides a terrific adventure for anyone who dreams of studying animals.-Ellen Heath, Orchard School, Ridgewood, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.