This charmingly illustrated collection of nature essays is more than it might appear to be at first glance ... I thought this was going to be another earnest tome of nature writing...But within a few lines of the first essay in this book it is clear that Aimee Nezhukumatathil is giving us more than that, much more ... This book is like the moment when you go to a familiar outside place and suddenly you see some amazing thing you had never expected ... Within two pages, nature writing feels different and fresh and new. Nezhukumatathil has written a timely story about love, identity and belonging ... a beautiful, poetic and powerful memoir ... Each story is a carefully crafted gem in which the personal and the natural history are woven together, to create a loving portrait of her family ... Nezhukumatathil takes us in to her childhood world and shows us life through the eyes of that little girl. It is a beguiling and charming tale ... a book that in less skillful and honest hands might have been yet another 'book about nature' becomes something much richer and deeper. Anyone who ever felt small and shy, like they didn’t quite fit in, will find a reflection in these thoughtful stories ... The voice that emerges from the pages is charming and thoughtful, with the confidence and playfulness of a writer who has published four collections of poetry to critical acclaim. But beyond the autobiography and the crafted prose, the book is also a plea for us to remember the beauty and wonder of the wild things around us. It betrays a sincere fear that they are being lost to our indoor and asphalt worlds, where we stare at screens, phones or the pavement instead of at trees, butterflies and the endless sky above us ... a very fine book indeed, truly full of wonder.
... shimmering ... Nakamura’s delicate, elegant illustrations frame these emotive, tender writings ... The essays uncover the astonishing habits of ribbon eels, whale sharks, flamingos, dancing frogs, and other lovelies, while other less popular but no less wondrous flora and fauna also shine. Alluring lines about the Corpse Flower, an Indonesian native that grows large and stinky to attract nocturnal pollinating beetles, are enough to make anyone a fan. Cassowaries with killer claws, the bizarro Vampire Squid, and the Potoo of Central America (a bird with a croaking, retching call) are also described with passion, artful wordsmithing, and reverence ... Natural world subjects are touchstones for heartfelt personal revelations and meditations about social and cultural issues ... There’s also sly humor ... a bibliophilic and visual delight that dazzles the senses, much like Nezhukumatathil’s beloved comb jellies. Her entrancing essays are a reminder to spend more time outdoors wondering at and cherishing this 'magnificent and wondrous planet.'
Nezhukumatathil’s delight in the world isn’t dulled by the world’s racism, but she doesn’t shy away from sharing her experiences of being on the receiving end of discrimination ... By examining the world around her, Nezhukumatathil finds an ongoing sense of connection to that world ... as sparkling as an armful of glass bangles and as colorful as the peacocks that first captured Nezhukumatathil’s imagination.