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Search for the Golden Moon Bear: Science and Adventure in Pursuit of a New…

by Sy Montgomery

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Solid science based non-fiction for upper grade-schooler or early middle-grade set. I liked it, but my young reading companions showed no interest. ( )
  Julie_loves_to_read | Mar 31, 2013 |
Today I'm looking at three middle grade adaptations of Sy Montgomery's adult works. Sy Montomery is one of my favorite Scientists in the Field series writers, so I thought I'd check out some of her other books. I tried to make it through her adult books, but just wasn't interested in that amount of philosophy mixed into animal stories. So, I took a look at three adaptations of adult books.

The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans tells the story of tigers who are unlike any other species. They have adapted to live in an estuarine environment and have developed many unusual behaviors, including an unusually high rate of attacking and eating people. The book includes comparisons and explanations of normal tiger behavior, hypothesis on how these tigers developed their odd behaviors, and interviews with local inhabitants, including tiger lore and myth in the area. It was interesting, but there was too much speculation and not enough facts. Eleanor Briggs' photography was detailed and varied but this book was still very text-heavy.

Encantado: Pink Dolphins of the Amazon is written in a very odd tense, which I can't remember the name of right now. For example "You're about to meet one of the most mysterious dolphins in the world. Scientists are eager to find out more about them. They could use your help. but studying them can be extremely difficult - as you'll soon find out." The facts and stories about these strange creatures were interesting, but the style drove me nuts. There's also lots of miscellaneous information about the Amazon and doing research and living there thrown in as well. Dianne Taylor-Snow's photography is ok, but nothing special.

Search for the Golden Moon Bear follows the Scientist in the Field model much more closely. A group of scientists and interested people go on an expedition and do research to solve a specific question: Do golden moon bears exist and are they a separate species? Along the way they encounter the different culture of Cambodia, lots of bears, unexpected setbacks and help, and many bears. Returning to the United States, the bear samples are sent to labs and there's a detailed and lengthy discussion of DNA and how testing works. The DNA testing shows some surprising results - not what they'd hoped, but something unexpected and interesting. This one was like a very long Scientist in the Field and there weren't quite as many photographs, all of which were taken unofficially by members of the expedition.

Verdict: The bears were my favorite, the tigers a close second. I really couldn't stand the weird tense in Encantado. If you need some longer naturalist/animal/science books for middle grade these would be good. Most of my animal lovers are much younger though and so I will stick with Scientist in the Field.

The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans
ISBN: 978-0618077045; Published February 2001 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library

Encantado
ISBN: 978-0618131037; Published March 2002 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library

Search for the golden moon bear
ISBN: 978-0618356508 ; Published November 2004 by Houghton Mifflin; Borrowed from the library
  JeanLittleLibrary | Jan 13, 2012 |
This interesting book is about a quest to unravel the puzzle of a golden bear in Southeast Asia. Was it a new species, or merely a color variation of the Asian black bear? The author and her companion Dr. Gary Galbreath traveled through Cambodia, Laos and Thailand in search of bears and local people who could share information about them. The story encompasses every aspect of their search for answers. It ranges from feeling like a travelouge, to describing bear behavior, to explaining the scientific methods of their study. It's about bear genetics, evolutionary history, and distribution; about the presence of the bear in local folklore and, sadly, diet and medicine. While the bear is a dominant thread, there is also so much about the history and culture of various Southeast Asian countries, and about other wildlife with names unfamiliar to me: kouprey, binturong, hog badger, markhor etc.

DogEar Diary ( )
  jeane | Aug 27, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743205847, Hardcover)

Sy Montgomery "is a modern miracle," says Book magazine, "bawdy, brave, inventive, prophetic, hell-bent on loving this planet." Writing as she does about animals and people at a turning point in our history, Montgomery has shown us that we share our planet with the most outlandish creatures. She's documented great apes, man-eating tigers, and pink river dolphins, but her latest muse, the golden moon bear, is an animal whose name and appearance evoke another world altogether.

Only eight bear species are known to science: the American black bear; the grizzly; the polar bear; the South American spectacled bear; Asia's sun bear, moon bear, and sloth bear; and the Chinese panda. The moon bears' lineage (most similar to that of the American black bear) as black-coated mountain dwellers had never been challenged -- until, on the edge of the new millennium, Montgomery and her scientific colleagues turned up this new golden form.

Search for the Golden Moon Bear travels to Southeast Asia, home of these luminous bears, for a look through the broken mirror of the evolutionary record into the present day. Hobnobbing with scientists and locals, Montgomery pieces together a living portrait of her elusive subject. "When the bear is well," says one Cambodian zookeeper, "he is [a] nice animal, like a friend." But the bears are not always well. With bear paws coveted as culinary treats, and bear parts administered as medicine for everything from nervousness to heart problems, the bears' world is a perilous one -- just as it is for humans. In pursuit of a new species, these scientists and adventurers encounter danger and mayhem at every turn -- riding motorcycles across active minefields, evading armed militia for a glimpse of moon bears, pulling hairs from live bears for DNA tests.

Search for the Golden Moon Bear is a field report from the frontiers of science and the ends of the earth, seamlessly weaving together folklore, natural history, and contemporary research into a fantastic travelogue.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:18:30 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The author takes readers on an exciting adventure as she travels Southeast Asia in search of the golden moon bear. Here, she chronicles the detective work and science behind tracking a new species in a different part of the world. Suggested level: intermediate, junior secondary.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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