From Publishers Weekly
In 40 personal essays, naturalist Tweit (Seasons in the Desert) evokes the beauty of the Pacific Coast by describing some of the region's unusual plant and animal species. Species profiles are grouped by season, and each opens with factual information about the plant or animal's common scientific name, range, habitat, size and color. Despite the strong regional focus, Tweit's meditative, well-researched essays should interest most nature lovers. From the strange feeding habits of the gray whale (lying on its side on the sea floor sucking up mud "like a huge vacuum cleaner") to the clever defense system of Spanish shawl sea slugs (which borrow the stinging cells of their prey), Tweit highlights the "vibrant and magical diversity" along the Pacific Coast. She aims to create a "family album" of the variety of characters inhabiting the 2000 miles of coastline from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Tijuana, Mexico, and to rekindle a sense of connection with these "wild relatives." Although the seasonal connections are not always clear and the essays sometimes wander, Tweit's personal observations and lyrical style are appealing. A bibliography of recommended books and a list of places to visit make it possible for interested readers to use the book as a field guide as well. Illustrated by James Noel Smith. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Informative but too-cute essays on the animals, plants, and sea life of the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts. NPR commentator Tweit, who lives in the Southwest, gladly admits to being an outsider to the Pacific coast region, a tourist to this shore. Small matter, for as a practiced naturalist and careful observer, shes done her homework very well, turning in careful observations on the life ways of kelp, sea lions, and starfish, among others. Organizing her short essays by season, she takes her readers on a leisurely tour of a 2,000-mile stretch of country, one that gives a strong sense of the wide range of ecosystems that border the Pacific. Regrettably, Tweit cannot resist the urge to be both treacly and preachy. Does any reader of nature books, anywhere, need to be told that we forget, at our peril, that nature is the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eatit truly is our home? When she sticks to straight description, however, Tweit is very good, and readers who tiptoe through the minefield of sentimentality can learn quite a lot about such denizens of the cold Pacific as eelgrass, which nourishes the inhabitants of the coasts tidal marshes, among the most fertile ecosystems on earth; sand dollars, echinoderms that suspend themselves in tidewater to feed on tiny organisms; and sea otters, which, Tweit writes, control the population of sea urchins, which in turn, if left unchecked, can clearcut whole giant kelp groves, their insatiable grazing denuding the once lush forests of the ocean bottom. (Even so, she adds, abalone fishermen kill otters indiscriminately, holding that otters devour fish that ought rightly to wind up on humans tables.) Good science meets bad poetry to make a nature book thats just so-so, but that may be of interest to some beachgoers. (illustrations) -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.