From Publishers Weekly
Mittelbach and Crewdson (coauthors of Wild New York
) use the titular beast as an excuse for an engaging if feckless conservationist road trip through Tasmania. A marsupial predator known for its 120-degree gape, the tiger is presumed extinct, but unverified sightings have anchored it on cryptozoologists' Most Wanted lists. The authors stake out likely haunts, talk to tiger investigators and skeptics, take in the pop-culture mania that has made the tiger Tasmania's unofficial mascot and visit a lab that's trying to clone the animal from a pickled 139-year-old specimen. The tiger hunt is often sidetracked to observe wallabies; giant crayfish; a variety of gross, menacing bugs; and the celebrated Tasmanian devil, a voracious marsupial scavenger whose "guttural, demonic screaming" is "a combination of rabid dog and Linda Blair in The Exorcist
." Tasmanian fauna is not especially charismatic and often appears as roadkill, which carpets the island's blacktops and forms an intrusive narrative motif. Indeed, the most exotic creature is the Byronic, usually stoned artist Alexis Rockman, who accompanied the authors and supplies ghostly illustrations done in such impeccably authentic media as "wombat fecal matter and acrylic polymer on paper." His antics up the book's gonzo factor. and the authors' lively writing will keep readers' spirits high. (Apr.)
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The Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine, is a probably extinct carnivore from the island of Tasmania. Doglike in form, the thylacine was a pouched predator. Nature writers Mittelbach and Crewdson fell in love with a taxidermy specimen that they discovered while doing research at the American Museum of Natural History. Their friend, artist Alexis Rockman, grew up roaming the halls of the same museum and also loved the thylacine mount. When they discovered that people still claimed to sight the Tasmanian tiger, and that scientists were attempting to clone one, the trio decided that they needed to go to Tasmania and look for them in the wild. The result is a wonderful romp, part science and part Bill Bryson, as authors and artist visit museums, studying thylacine remains. Rockman's luminous illustrations of the thylacines and other native wildlife illuminate this marvelous search for an elusive, charismatic animal. The story will appeal to lovers of both travel and nature writing. Nancy BentCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved