Penguins: The Ultimate Guide

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There is a new book out on Penguins: Penguins: The Ultimate Guide written and edited by Tui De Roy, Mark Jones, and Julie Cornthwaite.

It is a beautiful coffee table style book full of information. All of the world’s species are covered (amazingly there are only 18 of them) and there are more than 400 excellent photos. The book covers penguin science (science about them, not by them). There is also quite a bit about their conservation.

The layout of the book is interesting. The last section of the book, by Julie Cornthwaite includes portraits of each species, and a compendium of interesting facts such as which is the fastest penguin, strange things about their bills, their odd moulting behavior, interesting color variants, how they “fly”, interesting mating facts, and what threatens them. Then there is a table organized taxonomically giving their status, population estimates, ranges, and main threats. Following this is a two page bird-guide type spread on each species, with a range map, photos, descriptions, information about their voice, breeding behavior, feeding behavior, etc. That is what you would expect in a book about penguins.

But the first, and largest, part(s) of the book provides its uniqueness. The first section, by Dui De Roy, covers penguins generally, or specific exemplar species or groups of species, to provide an overview of what penguin-ness is all about. The second section, edited by Mark Jones, consists of 17 essays by various experts on specific topics, such as how penguins store food, how they are tracked at sea, and penguin-human interaction. I would like to have seen more about penguin evolution (which is interesting) but the sparsity of coverage of that topic does not detract from the book’s overall quality.

If you are into birds, you probably don’t have a penguin book, so this will fill the bill. As it were. This is also one of those books that totally qualifies as a great present to give someone you know who has an interest in birds generally, or penguins in particular. I should also mention that there are a couple of pages in the back on where to see penguins. Warning: They don’t smell very good.

I recommend the book. The following video has nothing to do with the book, but there are penguins in it:

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

In Search of Sungudogo by Greg Laden, now in Kindle or Paperback
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