John A. Kinch,
A Journey for All Seasons:
A Cross-Country Celebration
of the Natural World

(Lyons Press, 2000)

What a book for the animal or nature lover! A Journey for All Seasons: A Cross-Country Celebration of the Natural World is like getting two books combined in one. First, you have narratives about animal behavior. Second, you have sidebars, one for each narrative, that provide information about the natural world and efforts to preserve it. This is a powerhouse of information!

This book targets the preserves of the Nature Conservancy and their inhabitants. The author has compiled 60 events in nature and arranged them by season. For any time of the year, there is something to see at one of these preserves. There is an appendix that lists preserves and protected places for each state that are open to the public, each with a detailed description, total acreage and contact information.

A foreword by Anne Zwinger relates her memoirs of childhood and how things changed over time. She praises the author's brilliance and the Nature Conservancy's efforts to preserve nature. My advice is to read the final paragraph and begin the book. You can figure out for yourself how wonderful the book is without all the meandering pomp and ceremony.

The book begins with an examination of hibernation and focuses on the grizzly bears of the Rocky Mountains. The accompanying sidebar contains hibernation factoids, such as that the most hibernators found in North American mammal groups are rodents. The first summer entry is about bald cypress trees along the Black River of North Carolina. The sidebar explains about the cypress "knees." Autumn takes a look at the boreal bog, Cranesville Swamp, of West Virginia and its strange inhabitants. The sidebar provides an overview of types of wetlands. Winter includes taking winter identification walks and removing alien species in Hawaii. The sidebars tell how to fine-tune your senses to the natural world around you, why Hawaii is so vulnerable to alien species and what you can do to help.

The facts and figures in this book are often startling. If you are not really up to date on environmental news, this is the book to read. It provides an overview of so many sections of the country and fragile ecosystems. If I had to select any one environmental book for the overall big picture, I would choose this one. It is a splendid book.

Kinch's writing style is vivid, dramatic and quite descriptive. He gets maximum action with minimal writing. He is a strong writer who can take you on a journey to these places and leave you feeling as if you actually saw it. Anyone can understand his writings. This is an outstanding book for students that should be in every home.

- Rambles
written by Alicia Karen Elkins
published 7 June 2003

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