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Book Review: The Moon of the Salamanders (Children's Book) (Jean Craighead George)

Nathan050793

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So, it's been a while since I last did a book review, and I've finally found another neat salamander book, this time, a children's story.

The book is part of a 13 book series known as "The 13 Moons" where each book follows a particular animal during a particular month of the lunar calendar. It's called the 13 moons as there are 13 new or full moons each year.

The series is written by Jean Craighead George, award winning author of books such as My Side of the Mountain. The story is illustrated by Marlene Hill Werner.

The story is a beautifully written and even more gorgeously illustrated account of a spotted salamander's journey through a rainy Michigan woodland to the vernal pond where he meets others of his kind and breeds, eventually returning back to the forest. The book does a great job of describing very scientific terms in a way that children are able to understand.

For instance, there is a whole section of the story that explains the dropping of spermatophores and the ritual that finally results in the female picking one up. This is very nicely worded so that children can understand and still learn the scientific terms associated with it.

I'd recommend the book, as well as the rest of the series, to anyone who has children or who just loves looking at pictures. This book's salamander illustrations are cute and great for anyone with a passion for Caudates.

I bought the book off of Amazon for very cheap (less than $10 including shipping). It's ISBN number is 0-06-022609-9.
 

Otterwoman

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Looks fun! I just got a hardcover used on amazon for $4.50 (my nephews might like it) and softcover was available for $2.67. Thanks, Nathan!
 

Nathan050793

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Thank you for the praise, Dawn! I'd have posted some photos of the book's illustrations; however, my camera isn't doing it's job very well these days.
 

Nathan050793

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You know what? I do actually. I don't know why I didn't think of that; I'm not very good at using it though.
 

distefan

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Thanks for introducing me to more of Jean Craighead George, Nathan! I grew up with an exceedingly well-thumbed copy of My Side of the Mountain, and now my 7yo son is going through a Naturalist stage and enjoying that book too. I'll have to look into the 13 Moons series as well, once he is finished with the MSM "trilogy." Okay, well, maybe I'll just check them out a little earlier so I can read them too ;)

DDiS
 

Otterwoman

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Nathan, I loved this book! The narrative was very poetic. Here are a couple of the many lines I liked a lot:

The first spring thaw was followed by the first spring rain. On this night the world went back three hundred million years. The blue-spotted salamanders came from under stone and log to dance a dance unchanged through the ages. The dance began when a salamander moved beneath a log. The log lay on a wooded hillside in a tall forest in Michigan. The salamander lifted his smooth, moist head. He heard the thaw. It purled. Then he heard the first splash of rain. The rain tapped. (pp. 1-2)

The egg had hatched into a worm and the worm was eating himself into a pupa, and would sleep himself into a beetle. (p. 16)


Here are some pics I scanned in:
 

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Nathan050793

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Wow, I'm glad you enjoyed it, Dawn! You have a very different copy than I do; my illustrations are in color and are very different. I'll have to scan some in when I get a chance.
 

Critter Mom

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How very cute!! I might have to check this out! It seems very beautifully written. I certainly want to see more of the pictures and want to read more of it. I think my friends' kids might be a bit young for it right now, but I could hang onto a copy for when they are older and come over.:happy:

Thanks for bringing it to our attention!
 

Nathan050793

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I finally managed to take some photos of my copy's illustrations, so I'm posting some of my favorites now.

Dawn, your copy seems to be written somewhat differently. Your first line goes as this in my book:

"One of these actors awoke under the soil in a woodland in Michigan. Like all mole salamanders, he was a creature of the darkness. He lifted his head and heard the thaw. It purled. He listened to the rain. It tapped."
 

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Otterwoman

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Yours looks like a much more recent version. When was yours published? Mine was published in 1967.
Does yours have the same illustrator as mine? Mine's illustrated by John Kaufmann.

Mine starts like this:
"In the third moon of the year the great thaw came. Warm winds blew for days. Iced lakes turned to water. The snow slipped away....[the line I quoted is the first line of the second paragraph, which is a couple sentences away still.]
And what the heck means "purl" ? I only know that from knitting. I'm gonna look it up.

Here we go:

"to whirl; turn. To flow with a bubbling sound; ripple. To move in eddies."

Also in my book she's clearly talking about blue-spotteds and those are what is illustrated. Yours shows maculatum. What does your text refer to?
 

Nathan050793

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Mine is much more recent than yours! Mine was published in 1992. My illustrator is also different. Mine was illustrated by Marlene Hill Werner.

There are two text copyrights for Jean Craighead George in my book, one for 1967 (when yours was published), and one for 1992. Perhaps it was reworded over the years?

Mine starts off as: "In the third moon of the year the first thaw came. Warm winds blew for days and nights. Lakes of ice turned to water. The snow slipped away..." Then the line that you and I quoted previously doesn't appear until the 5th paragraph in my copy. Mine starts off its first few paragraphs explaining how salamanders first appeared and have been around for millions of years.

Also, my version clearly refers to Spotted salamanders, rather than A.laterale. The book even talks about his "light-yellow" spots reflecting in the moonlight.

I want to read your copy now! It seems interesting, especially compared to the recent version.

P.s.
Thanks for looking up "purl." I had no idea what it mean either!
 

Otterwoman

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That's interesting. In post 7 where I quoted from the book she specifically mentioned blue-spotteds. Obviously she re-wrote parts and had a new illustrator. Probably some editor somewhere said "what the heck are blue-spotted salamanders? You made that up. Everyone knows salamanders are black with yellow spots." (That's if he even knew what a salamander was.) Or, something like, "Dammit, Jean, the public doesn't want blue-spotted salamanders anymore. They are so last year. Right now, the yellow spots are in!"
So now, the reader of this thread who is ordering this book knows there are two versions and is clearly warned!!! To be honest, I think I like the "classic" Moon best. Maybe it's a generational thing. Yours was published in your generation, my copy was published in my generation.
 
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