The Photo Ark: One Man’s Quest to Document the World’s Animals by Joel Sartore (National Geographic)

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This is a book that should be on everyone’s coffee tables and book shelves!  I found it on the ‘new’ release shelf at my local library, being an animal lover I had to check it out.  National Geographic the Photo ark is a lifelong project, already spanning 25 years, of photographer Joel Sartore.  It is his goal to take portraits of the world’s animals, especially those that are endangered and put them at our fingertips.  Joel has a powerful message sprawling through this fantastic book conveyed with humor, compassion and art.  Joel hopes we will look into the eyes of these animals, to know these animals, in order to save them.

Sartore’s intends to photograph every animal in captivity around the world.  He is visiting zoos and wildlife rescue centers to create studio portraits of 12,000 species, with an emphasis on those facing extinction.  He has photographed more than 6,000 already and now, thanks to a multi-year partnership with National Geographic, he may reach his goal.

As I was going through the book, I happened upon an Albino North American Porcupine with the caption “This albino porcupine is named Halsey for the spot in Nebraska near where she was rescued after being hit on the highway.  Today Halsey is thriving, despite a dental condition that prevents her from ever being returned to the wild.”  This caught me off guard because I happen to live in Nebraska!  Not only that, but as I kept reading I read more captions and descriptions of animals that were photographed at Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium (Nebraska),  Nebraska Wildlife Rehab in Louisville (Nebraska) and the Lincoln’s Children Zoo (Nebraska).

Then, after finishing the book, I read about the photographer and author Joel Sartore.  He is a photographer, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic Fellow and a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine.  He is the founder of this project, the Photo Ark, has contributed to Audubon magazine, Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, Smithsonian magazine and numerous book projects.  Are you ready for the icing on the cake????  Joel is always happy to return from his travels around the world to his home in Lincoln, Nebraska, where his lives with is wife and their three children.

I cannot stress enough how amazing this book was, especially from the fact that this project is being conducted by a fellow Nebraskan.  I look forward to seeing more of Joel Sartore’s work in the future!

 

 

 

 

 

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

~Book Club Selection~ A Novel Idea’s book for May!

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

This book was so beautiful and haunting, a story of the broken destinies of two young protagonists, during World War II. There is Marie-Laure, a French blind girl, forced to flee Paris and the routine of her safe and familiar life, with her father. Then there is snow-haired Werner, a young German private, keen, resourceful and thrown in a war he doesn’t fathom.

Marie-Laure lives with her father near the Museum of Natural History in Paris.  Her father works as the “master of its thousands of locks”.  Ever since Marie-Laure went blind at the age of six, she as been memorizing the neighborhood via a perfect miniature rendition her father has made.  She can navigate easily now.  Then the war comes when she is twelve.  Her and her father flee to an uncles house by the sea, where they think they will be safe.  Although with them, they happen to carry the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In Germany, Werner grows up with his younger sister Jutta and many others at an orphanage.  They find an old radio one day and their lives were changed forever. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

All the Light We Cannot See is undeniably a masterpiece. The characters are well developed throughout the novel, the settings are lush with expository passages that help entrench the reader in Marie-Laure’s sightless world, and is ultimately a novel of optimism in a time of doom.  This is a highly recommended read!