Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Round 1: The White Stag vs. Noah's Garden

Last March I did a post (see: March Brackets) about book brackets. Well, it's been almost a year so I guess that we'd better get under way. My first line-up is between The White Stag and Noah's Garden.

The White Stag The White Stag by Kate Seredy

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The White Stag is story of how the Huns came to inhabit Hungary and of Atilla, the man who led them there. It's a mythology painted with broad strokes and with illustrations depicting chiseled heroes and fair maidens.

I don't have lot to say about this book. It won the Newbery award in 1938, and I have to say that it's my least favorite of all the Newberys I've read. It's not that I have anything particular to complain about. The book just didn't do a lot for me.

Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards Noah's Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Backyards by Sara B. Stein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sara Stein documents her journey from being a conventional American gardener to a naturalist, ecologist and native-habitat restorer. Along the way there are wonders to behold and lessons to learn.

First a sample of one of the wonders: have you ever considered the life cycle of the aphid? Aphids are polymorphous, viviparous and parthenogenetic. Let's break that down.
Polymorphous: different generations have different body shapes.
Viviparous: they give birth to live young.
Parthenogenetic: they reproduce without fertilization. (They also reproduce with fertilization).
It get's stranger, but I won't go further into the aphids here.

Now for one of those lessons. Here's a quote from the book
How much water does it take to quench a butterfly's thirst? Give a dove a bath? Provide a laying place for toads? No more than a puddle.

But where are the puddles? Where are the dirt roads that you splashed in during your youth? Probably paved over with excellent drainage. The sad truth is that we've improved away our toads, doves and butterflies.

The problem with ecological restoration is that it takes education, whereas putting in grass, dousing it with water, and mowing it every week takes no thought.

Noah's Garden is a wonderful read with an important message.

View all my reviews >>

The winner is clear: Noah's Garden will be advancing to the semi-finals.

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