If Animals Could Talk

Sometimes you just stumble upon a book that looks simple but turns out to be a really funny read.  That’s how I felt about Liz Climo’s works and now that’s how I feel about Carla Butwin’s If Animals Could Talk. Using animals, Butwin takes our preconceived notions of them and turns them on their head.  Irreverently funny, Butwin plays on words and the characteristics we place on certain anAnimalsimals. While it may look like a read aloud for your kids, I would not recommend it.  There’s a lot of irony and sarcasm that may be lost on kids and there is some PG-13 language.  As for adults, read-a-way!
I don’t like to compare authors a lot.  It feels like comparing siblings, which isn’t fair.  I feel that as readers we tend to do this subconsciously, especially with authors who write in similar styles and genres.  Butwin certainly has her own specific style and she takes the animal-humor (genres?) in a unique directions.  When I first grabbed the book off the shelf, I do feel like I set myself up to read one of Climo’s books, however. Due to this, I feel that I was pleasantly surprised because Butwin’s humor is much sharper and edgier.  All in all I feel that neither Climo nor Butwin is better than the other since they are writing in unique ways about similar topics.  Frankly I’m glad because we readers will benefit from future works of both amazing authors.

A quick but hilarious read, I recommend this if you want to see animals make fun of themselves in a PG-13 fashion as well as experience an author playing on our presupposed ideas of what endears us to the creatures in this book. Carla Butwin is going alongside Liz Climo as two of my favorite authors who use animals to share humor.


Love, Volume 1: The Tiger

Love, Volume 1: The Tiger by Frederic Brremaud; No, this isn’t some erotic shifter paranormal romance.  It’s a graphic novel about literal tigers in the Southern Asian jungle.  I wasn’t sure what it was going to be about actually.  The front cover has a tiger attacking a panther.  And it is titled “Love”.  So I figured maybe it was going to show that love in the jungle was vicious and ultimately didn’t exist.  I was wrong.

TigerBasically tiger wakes up.  Tiger spots Tapir.  Tiger spends the entire time trying to attack Tapir.  That’s the overarching premise.  But along the way, the tiger meets other creatures.  A crocodile that can leap out of rivers and climb fallen trees.  And apparently tigers can get crocodiles to go away by clawing them.  The attack by the crocodile makes tiger angry, so when it comes across two panthers hunting a mouse it decides to attack both of them.  At this point it was clear to me that this tiger was bad news.

Tiger moves on from the hunt because he once again spots the tapir. Problem is that the tapir is at a lake where a female elephant is hanging out.  As the tiger waits to attack the tapir, a bull elephant, keen on mating with the female, gets run over.  Tiger doesn’t like this so he attacks the elephant, which goes badly for the tiger.  So as the elephants mate, the tapir escapes again, the tiger slinks off pissed and injured.  He comes across a man at his fire near his hut.  It doesn’t go well for the man.

I still don’t know what the point of this book is.  Either the author’s are trying to say that tigers are senseless killers, or that he was pissed that everyone else is getting some and he wanted wanted to get laid too.  There are better graphic novels out there.  I wouldn’t give this one any time.

To read this and other reviews by other readers, visit cannonballread.com

Sex on Earth

As a kid, I was always interested in the ways things worked.  I was always wondering about the patterns of life and how they work together.  One of the careers I pondered as a lad was being a marine biologist.  Thanks to living near the ocean I always wanted to make a living out of being in one of my favorite environments.  But, that’s not where I ended.  I still have that inner scientist in me and even though I don’t work with animals, teenagers count in my book.  These days I tend to focus more on psychology rather than biology, but I still have an interest in the field. So all of this is a preamble as to why I picked up a book about animal reproduction.

Let’s be honest, if you saw the title Sex on Earth on the “New Books” display at your library you’d probably be interested in it too.  So I decided to see what this was all about.  Plus I was trying to determine what pandas had to do with the sex.  Then when I realized it was written by a zoologist and his year-long journey to discover some of the hidden sex lives of everyday animals I thought, why not?  It didn’t dawn on me until half-way through the book before I realized that I’d have to blog about this.  And then it made me wonder how many people would immediately begin to question where I landed on the perv-spectrum.

SexSex on Earth by Jules Howard was actually quite far from a bawdy drawings and lurid descriptions of animal copulation.  Instead, it actually revealed that we know very little about the animals we all assume we know.  And yes, he does address animal sex.  But using humor (high brow enough not to stoop to Jr. High levels) he’s able to take a scientific subject and make it palatable for the masses.  In another scientist’s hands this would’ve been a cure for insomnia.

Instead, what Howard achieves is challenging the reader to reexamine our relationship to the creatures we live with everyday.  The number one concern for most animals is survival.  The second concern is survival of the species.  Since we are not limited to these concerns, we tend to project our higher thinking onto to our animal neighbors.  For example, who doesn’t like feeding ducks?  Who doesn’t think ducklings are cute?  But would you look at mallards the same way if you knew that during the mating season, gangs of mallards will sometimes forcefully copulate, in aggressive groups, with females which may end up in drowning or injury for the she-duck?  Or that pandas aren’t as bad at sex as we tend to give them credit for.  It’s that when placed in artificial settings such as zoos, it kills the mood, so to speak.  Clearly they’ve survived for millennia, so they must know something about how to procreate.

These are the sorts of questions that Howard answers in his journey to discover the intimate side of animal.  It’s surprising how much we don’t notice about animals, but that in knowing may alter our perceptions of them.  And also, he addresses why dogs will hump random objects.  Because you know we all wonder why when we see it happen.

To read this and other interesting book reviews, visit cannonballread.com