My Family and Other Animals

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Grade Level: 8-12
Author: Gerald Durrell
Publisher: Penguin Nature Classics
Publish Date: 2004
Binding: Paperback
Dimensions: 5 by 7 3/4 inches
Number of Pages: 288
Item ID: 3125 C3H  ISBN: 978-0-14-200441-8
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See the nature and culture of the Greek island of Corfu during a five-year period through the eyes of a ten-year-old, the youngest of four. Gerry Durrell pursues his interest in natural history passionately describing his surroundings. “Water snakes recuperate from heat stroke in the bathtub, matchboxes are filled with scorpions, and a pair of rowdy magpies make short order of everything from elaborate dinner spreads to Lawrence’s prized manuscript.” Gerry describes the end of his day, “Towards evening, our jars, bottles, and tubes full of strange and exciting forms of life, we would turn for home. The sky would be fading to a pale gold as we mareched through the olive groves, already dim with shadow, and the air would be cooler and more richly scented. Roger [their dog] would trot ahead of us, his tongue flapping out, occasionally glancing over his shoulder to make sure we were following him.”

Originally published in 1956, the Penguin edition is complete and unabridged; it is not an inexpensive book, but the quality of the writing makes it worth every penny. This book is part of Hewitt’s Grade-8 Lightning Literature program (See Related Items below). From our Guide by Elizabeth Kamath:

As good and prolific a writer as he was, Durrell was an even better naturalist and zookeeper. He was ahead of his time by insisting that the primary mission of zoos should be to encourage captive breeding of endangered species. He also worked at making the animals’ enclosures appropriate for the animals based on their natural habitat. This was at a time when most zoos focused on acquiring animals based on what the public wanted to see and created enclosures that allowed for the best viewing. Durrell was largely responsible for shifting the focus of zoos from entertainment for the public to actual zoological work.
 

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