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A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts Hardcover – October 28, 2008


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 8
  • Lexile Measure: 1020L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (October 28, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374345783
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374345785
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 0.6 x 10.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #653,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 4–8—This inspiring biography chronicles the conservationist's studies of wildlife around the world. Schaller has spent his life counting, observing, and photographing wild animals, from mountain gorillas in Central Africa to snow leopards in Tibet, and providing data to encourage governments to protect their habitats. The book is arranged chronologically in chapters that intertwine vignettes of his contacts with individual animals with information about his research techniques. The writing is both clear and lively. The book ends with brief reports on progress in each of the areas where he worked. Schaller's own sharp color photos show readers the specific animals mentioned in the text. Helpful features include maps at the beginning of each chapter, suggestions for how to get involved, a list of Internet and multimedia resources, and an extensive bibliography. Fans of Jane Goodall and Diane Fossey will enjoy getting to know Schaller, who preceded these women in establishing observation as a way to study animals in the wild.—Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The author of Gorilla Doctors: Saving Endangered Great Apes (2005) offers another excellent introduction to animal conservation in this biography of pioneering environmentalist Schaller. Organized chronologically, the chapters begin with Schaller’s childhood flight from Germany to the U.S. in 1947, when the young animal lover, able to take only a few possessions to America, chose a treasured collection of bird eggs. The majority of the book, however, focuses on Schaller’s adult career as a researcher who transformed field biology with his studies of gorillas, tigers, lions, and other wild creatures around the globe. In clear, detailed prose, Turner shows how Schaller rejected the nineteenth-century approach to studying exotic animals (“find it, kill it, examine the corpse”) in favor of low-impact methods, proving that “a supposedly dangerous animal could be observed in the wild with minimal risk.” Turner’s vivid, moment-by-moment descriptions of animal encounters will captivate readers, as will Schaller’s color photos and reproduced field notes, which illustrate the chapters along with maps indicating the locations of his studies. Young environmentalists will welcome the appended material, which includes a “Getting Involved” section. Relying heavily on Schaller’s own writings as well as interviews with Schaller and his wife, Turner’s stirring portrait spotlights a scientist’s invaluable contributions to animal study; the gritty, thrilling particulars of fieldwork; and the urgent necessity to protect wild creatures and their habitats. Grades 5-8. --Gillian Engberg

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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I would recommend this book to any lover of wild animals and wild places.
David P. Kelly
We have to return it to the library tomorrow...will be buying our own copy of this gem.
Laura Wiand
Middle school students will like the way this biography moves from place to place.
Great Kid Books

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Kirsten G. Cutler on December 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Turner, Pamela S. A Life in the Wild: George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2008.

This is a fascinating account of George Schaller's lifelong dedication to study and save some endangered mammals: gorillas, tigers, lions, pandas and snow leopards. The text is informative but also entertaining to read; it provides a sense of immediacy to the reader describing how a tiger pops up next to him, stares at him and then walks away or a panda accepts that George is not a threat and sits down and falls asleep a short distance away. The final chapter provides a summing up of conservation activities for each area that George studied, additional resources are recommended, quotes are documented and an index is included. The photos and text inspire, as does the author since she states she is donating her royalties from this book to the Wildlife Conservation Society for projects promoted by George Schaller. Pamela says, "We need young people with the moral vision to grant wild places and wild creatures the right to exist, whole, free, and untouched." Give this wonderful book to children in 5th-8th grade and perhaps they will become those young people.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David P. Kelly on February 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a dedicated George Schaller fan, I will buy and read anything by or about him. I am a long way from the Young Adults at which I believe this book is aimed, but I found "A Life In The Wild, George Schaller's Struggle to Save the Last Great Beasts" enjoyable and informative. The story is condensed, not dumbed down, and gives an excellent portrait of the greatest living field biologist and his work.

There is a chapter on each of his major projects. The photography, mostly Schaller's own, maps, and Sources chapter at the end add depth.

I would recommend this book to any lover of wild animals and wild places. It is George Schaller 101, valuable and enjoyable in itself and as a gateway to his own writings. Buy it - read it - you'll be glad you did.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laura Wiand on August 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover
My 8 year old and I read this together and it was so riveting he started to cry when we got to the last chapter because he didn't want it to end! Very engaging book, well written....will definitely inspire budding scientists and conservationists and help any child see the importance in protecting our wild resources. Be warned, for the littler kids there are a few very sad moments in the book and a couple rather graphic pictures of dead animals (killed by poachers) that may be a bit hard for the tender-hearted. I avoided showing my son the pics but did read the passages as they really drive the message home. We have to return it to the library tomorrow...will be buying our own copy of this gem.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Great Kid Books on May 27, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Tuner has created a vivid, moving biography of George Schaller, a researcher who transformed field biology with his studies of gorillas, tigers, lions, and other wild creatures around the globe. In the nineteenth-century, biologists studied exotic animals by with the approach: "find it, kill it, examine the corpse." Schaller knew he could study these endangered animals by observing them in the wild. After his initial studies in Alaska, Schaller worked for two years in the Belgian Congo studying the mountain gorillas. Next, he observed lions in Tanzania for three years, tracked the elusive snow leopard through the Himalayas for six years, and spend five years working with the pandas in China. Middle school students will like the way this biography moves from place to place. Each chapter focuses on a different animal, and Turner creates suspense and with her descriptions of the challenges that Schaller faced.

I particularly liked the way that you get a sense of Schaller living in the wild with his family. George's wife Kay and young sons moved first to India and then to Africa with him. Kay and the boys experienced first hand many of the wild animals George was studying.

This is a wonderful book for kids (ages 10 - 14) to read to see that you can follow your dreams. From a young age, Schaller loved animals. He found a way to pursue his interests, developing his knowledge and leading scientists from all over the world in developing new respect for the natural world.

for more reviews, go to Great Kid Books
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More About the Author

My Background

I was very interested in books as a child. I still remember how hard I worked as a four-year-old at learning to write my name because my mother promised I could have a library card as soon as I could scrawl "PAMELA." When my parents made me turn my bedroom lights out at night, I would read by the tiny red light on the temperature control for my electric blanket. I grew up in Riverside--a rather hot part of Southern California. I was forced to sweat through many books, and not just because I was worried about the hero.

The first thing I can remember wanting to be is a children's author. I also loved animals. We had a dog and a big outdoor cage full of doves. My good friend, Jenny, lived on a dairy farm and it was critter heaven for me. We would jump her horses bareback over bales of hay and ride for miles in the hills.

When I was in college I spent a year in Nairobi, Kenya as an exchange student. I didn't know much about Africa before I left, but I knew it had lots of wildlife. I traveled throughout East and Central Africa and saw lions, elephants, gorillas, Cape buffalo, and many other animals. I met my future husband, Rob, in Kenya. He was also an exchange student. We both loved living in another country.

I have a B.A. in Social Science from the University of California, Irvine, and a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley. I've worked as a legislative assistant for foreign affairs for a California congressman and as a international health consultant. Over the years Rob and I lived in Kenya, the Marshall Islands, South Africa, the Philippines, and Japan. We have three children, Travis (26), Kelsey (24), and Connor (21). Each of them was born in a different country.


How I Started Writing

My family and I lived in Japan for about six years, and my children all attended a local Japanese preschool. The Japanese mothers at the preschool told me the story of Hachiko. I thought it was a wonderful tale. When we returned to the U.S. I decided I wanted to be a writer, just like I'd planned to be when I was four.(Better late than never.) Hachiko is famous in Japan, and I thought his story would be a wonderful one to share with English-speaking children. HACHIKO was my first book. Since then I've written seven more (GORILLA DOCTORS, LIFE ON EARTH-AND BEYOND, A LIFE IN THE WILD, THE FROG SCIENTIST, PROWLING THE SEAS, PROJECT SEAHORSE, and THE DOLPHINS OF SHARK BAY). Another book is in the pipeline: SAMURAI RISING, to be published in 2016 by Charlesbridge.

On the Home Front

We now live in Oakland, California. I've written many science and nature articles for adults and for children. Besides reading and writing, I like to scuba dive and snow ski. I've been lucky enough to dive all over the world, including the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the Pacific, and off California. I love diving because you can get closer to big animals underwater than anywhere else. Several years ago I began learning kendo (Japanese swordfighting) along with with youngest son, Connor. We are members of the Berkeley Kendo Dojo.

When I write I am ably kept company by my yellow labrador retriever, Manchee, and my son Connor's cockapoo, Tux. They sometimes respond to "sit." They always respond to "cookie." I also have a very obese Australian White's tree frog named Dumpy F. Lumpy who looks a lot like Jabba the Hut.

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