Edward Burgess, Ghillean T. Prance, James Burgess, Margaret D. Lowman
From Publishers Weekly
A single mother who studies the science of eaten leaves (herbivory), Lowman (Life in the Treetops) has traveled to distant tropical locations such as Peru, India and Samoa, often with her two sons in tow, and in this testament to her rarified approach to parenting, urges parents to get out there with their kids and let them get dirty. Her co-authors are her sons, and their essays on Biosphere 2, bromeliads and beetles bolster her claims that immersion in nature can produce young conservationists. She also boasts that her science work and her parenting style inform one another and help promote her goal of expanding forest conservation. She proselytizes throughout the book for environmental education, but it is the stories of spending water-logged nights aloft in the rainforest canopy and gross-out stories of eating hissing cockroaches that persuade most effectively. Readers will find themselves skipping through her repetitive exhortations to get back to the forests in order to get at the book's meat: adventure stories and oddball ecological information. The essays by her sons read like college-admissions essays, and the illustrations are needlessly whimsical, but Lowman's spirited tale of science and single parenting is inspirational.Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Following up her very poplar Life in the Treetops (1999), rainforest biologist Lowman chronicles her life as a scientist who is also a single mom (her two sons, Edward and James Burgess, are listed as coauthors). It's a family adventure that spans the globe, from Peru to India to Panama and beyond. While the book addresses some pertinent scientific issues, such as species extinction and the devastation of the rainforests, readers will also enjoy the more personal elements of the story: the difficulties of bringing up two boys in some of the world's most isolated places. Lowman is a nimble writer, several cuts above many of her popular-science contemporaries; and her passion for her profession, and for her children, is both powerful and moving. David PittCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
I suppose it depends what you're expecting. I felt a little deceived having read 'It's a Jungle Up There', not that it's Lowman's fault. The packaging, press and quotes suggested it might be something more, say along the lines of E O Wilson. But this is not an original look at man's relationship to the world. It's more of a cheerleading exercise for the mixture of motherhood and biology. It's filled with enthusiasm for nature, but also with personal asides and exlamation marks. ("Happy Anniversary Michael!"). At the risk of sounding like a real grinch, the book is unforgivably padded by pages written by her two sons. All of these essays, of which there are many, read like college applications. It's a thin book, aimed perhaps at a younger generation. People looking for meatier stuff should keep on looking.
"Canopy Meg" is the Perfect Role Model for All of Us
What a really terrific read! In this book Dr. Lowman has co-authored with her sons, we find a beautiful story of developing a conservation ethic for families. The tone is so positive and inviting, I felt like I was up in the canopy with them.
One of the really captivating elements of this book is the wonderful journal notes and essays lived life that combines a passion for science with family and community. I am in awe of the courage it must have taken to share such a personal story, filled with adventure, challenge, adversity in the work place, loss, humor, and quite a few poisonous snakes. We could use an Earth of sons and daughters raised by her.
Lowman really is a role model for parents to become stewards of all of Earth's creatures, and her passion and work efforts certainly have made inroads to this goal. Through this story, Dr. Lowman and her sons will inspire and mentor thousands of current and future naturalists, both boys and girls. As I finished the last pages of this book, I decided I need to find my copy of her earlier book "Life in the Treetops" and read it again. What a terrific adventure.
I highly recommend "It's a Jungle Up There" and will be giving copies to all the young people I know for birthdays, graduations, and other celebrations. And I believe I will share it with a few adults who could use a great read, and a little vicarious adventure.
Notes On Meg's Book
Notes on Margaret Lowman's book, "It's a Jungle Up There---More tales from the Treetops," with Edward and James Burgess. Yale University Press, 2006.
Margaret Lowman is a remarkable woman scientist. I say this not only after reading this book and her first book, "Life in the Treetops," but because I had the rare opportunity to be her Executive Assistant for 8 months during 2002-2003 while employed at the Marie Selpromotion and be cognizant of an ever-increasing need to be a guardian of the world's biosphere. As her Executive Assistant for even a very brief time, I am proud to have shared some of the pages of "the padded chair" with her, and will always recall Meg as a fair, straight and honest supervisor.
Susan A. Jarzen CPS
Secretary, Florida Museum of Natural History
February 27, 2006
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