Friday, January 4, 2019

Fact Friday: The Hyena Scientist by Sy Montgomery

The Hyena Scientist by Sy Montgomery. Photographed by Nic Bishop. 70 p. Scientists in the Field series. May, 2018.9780544635111. (Review of finished copy courtesy of publisher.)

Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows of my love for this series. Certainly my seventh graders do as the series is a huge part of the selection of scientists at work books they have to choose from for a unit on narrative non-fiction. Sy Montgomery has written quite a few of the books and Nic Bishop has photographed quite of few of them as well. They have outdone themselves here. 

Montgomery was the morning keynote at SLJ Basecamp in Boston this past August, where attendees received copies of the newly published book. I never thought I would come to appreciate hyenas, but did first after hearing her speak and then again reading this superb book. 

The reader gets up close and personal not only with the hyenas but with the team of scientists, led by Kay Holekamp, who has studied spotted hyenas in Kenya for thirty years. Each scientist who works at camp observing and recording data about the hyenas gets a page of biography. Montgomery and Bishop got to go out on observations and Montgomery even got to tend to a male hyena who was darted in order to be tagged and studied! The photos Bishop took reveal hyenas in all their glory as well as other animals in the ecosystem. 

Backmatter includes fast facts about spotted hyenas, books and websites for further reading, acknowledgments and an index. I expect to hear it winning something come January as it has garnered three starred reviews, popped up on many year-end best lists and was named a CYBILS Middle Grade Non-fiction Finalist on January 1.

The Hyena Scientist is a first-purchase addition to any library collection! 

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