Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Book Review: Fox Talk, by L.E.Carmichael

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and unbiased.This is a book review for Mother/Daughter Book Reviews Blog Tour.

When you talk to a dog, does the dog talk back? Many people think so. But for a long time, scientists didn’t know how our furry friends learned to communicate with people. Luckily, Russian scientist Dmitri Belyaev had a plan. If he could tame wild red foxes, he could learn how dogs first came from wolves. By studying the way these foxes changed during domestication, the mystery of communication would be solved at a last. More than 50 years after the experiment began, Belyaev’s foxes have become so tame, you can have one as a pet! Packed with eye-popping photos and first-hand research, FOX TALK reveals the story of these amazing animals… and everything they’ve taught us about wolves, dogs, and communication.
My Review
I would highly recommend this book not only to elementary aged children, but also to older, middle grade students, even low readers, as well. The non-fiction account of a Russian scientist’s dedication to the study of communication of domesticated canines is clearly written, interspersed with terrific photographs of both wild and domestic animals.
The amount of writing per page is just enough to communicate the story without having the young or literary-challenged reader feeling bogged down, as with many text books. The writing itself is given in digestible bites and it flows over each page with movement and color to add interest.
The author begins by discussing the definition of domestication and comparing foxes, wolves and dogs, giving differences and similarities. The problem of communication between humans and canines is introduced and then Belyaev’s and other's experiments are discussed.
As a science teacher who is introducing the scientific method to sixth graders, I enjoyed reading the methods used in Belyaev’s and Gogoleva’s experiments. This would be an excellent supplement to a science lesson in which controls, variables and settings would be discussed. The content of the book would be much more interesting to a group of young scientists than the usual reading about plants grown in different soils or lighting. There is just enough science jargon to balance the more interesting behavioral outcomes with domestic vs wild foxes or other canines.
Other fox studies are also included in this book, American and Hungarian. Results seem to match up with Balyaev’s experiments, which reinforces the concept of replication in the scientific method.
The author includes personal bits about some of the foxes to make them even more endearing to children (and science teachers) by including short video clips showing the foxes interacting with humans. She lays out an experiment that children can do with their dogs using food bowls. This, to me, brings all of this back home for kids to relate what they have learned about foxes to their own domestic canines. I believe children will look at their dogs with different eyes after reading this book.
And, if this book has left you interested in adopting a domestic fox of your own, the author can assist you in that as well. Online information sites are provided to pursue this further.
As much as I love to read, I rarely have the time during a school year to write a review of a book. Fox Talk was definitely an exception to this. Maybe it was my strong feelings for the plight of endangered canines and felines that drew me to the book’s cover. Once, I ventured inside, I was hooked. The photographs are passionate as well as beautiful and the author’s knowledge of the subject is obvious. I would highly recommend this book to any elementary or middle school librarian or student. Five stars.  

About the Author
Lindsey Carmichael never outgrew that stage of childhood when nothing’s more fun than amazing your friends (and correcting your teachers!) with your stockpile of weird and wonderful facts. Her sense of wonder came in handy during her career as a scientist, and in 2006, she received the Governor General’s Medal for her PhD thesis, Ecological Genetics of Northern Wolves and Arctic Foxes. Lindsey finds talking about science more fun than doing it, however, and now writes for kids, teens, and occasionally adults (a sense of wonder is essential for this, too). Lindsey publishes under the name L E Carmichael, and her work has appeared in Dig, Highlights for Children, Kiki, and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic. Her published science books cover everything from animal migration to hybrid cars. When not digging up obscure or wacky details for her next nonfiction project, Lindsey’s probably working on her young adult fantasy novel.

Please continue to follow the Fox Talk Book Promotional Tour and enter the Giveaway. Details are in the following:

Fox Talk Blog Tour Schedule (2014)

January 27
January 28
January 29
January 30
January 31
February 1
February 2
February 3
February 4
February 5
February 6
February 7
February 8
February 10
February 11
February 12
February 13
February 14
February 15
February 16

* Blog Tour Giveaway *

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card (or PayPal cash) + a Skype visit to a school or library of the winner's choice ($250 value).

Contest runs: January 27th to February 21, 11:59 pm, 2014

Open: Worldwide

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, Ashby-BP Publishing and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions - feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
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  1. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to review Fox Talk. I hope you will be able to use this book as a resource in your classroom. I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. The book also appealed to me with its focus on the scientific method - I thought that part was really well done. Thanks for joining us on the Fox Talk Blog tour Kathryn!

  2. Thank you, Renee. I am inspired by this blog tour and look forward to doing another.