Sources: Penguins: the Ultimate Guide

Penguins: the Ultimate Guide. By Tui De Roy, Mark Jones, and Julie Cornthwaite. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014. 240 p. $35 (ISBN 978-0-691-16299-7).

This copiously illustrated guide comprehensively elucidates all the penguins of the world. This labor of love, compiled over a number of years, encompasses all eighteen species of penguins, from emperors and kings to the little-known blue penguins. Of all penguin species, only two of them actually live and breed in Antarctica (emperors and adelies). Many others congregate on specific islands in the Southern Oceans and the Australian, New Zealand, or South American coasts, but an African penguin and a tropical Galapagos penguin also exist. One section of the book contains excellent species profiles, with close-up photographs of each kind of penguin, and delineates names, descriptions, colorations, size and weight, voice, a map of its distribution, breeding habits, food, and principal threats to the species.

The authors provided the breathtaking photographs, over four hundred in all. Partners at Roving Tortoise Worldwide Nature Photography of New Zealand, the authors created natural photographs of rare and exotic wildlife. All photographs were taken “in wild and free conditions,” mainly by the three co-authors. The pictures include swimming and diving penguins, overhead and panoramic shots of penguin colonies and habits, and close-up photos of penguin families. Tui De Roy authored the first part, “Life Between Two Worlds,” discussing each family of penguins and their similarities and differences. Jones wrote a long section on both his personal experiences and a quick historical overview, and he followed this with a number of two-page essays by various experts in the field. These essays concentrated on “Science and Conservation” and highlighted current research on penguins, specific problems being addressed, and penguin history and evolution. Some of the pieces include personal stories and adventures experienced by the authors while studying specific species of penguins. Cornthwaite’s section addresses detailed species profiles with many pictures, also several pages of “Fascinating Facts,” and a large chart summarizing penguin ranges and population statuses. A similar title, Wayne Lynch’s Penguins of the World (Firefly Books, 2007), wrote more from a personal viewpoint, aimed for a younger audience, and offered much less specific species information, providing short paragraphs on each species, found in the appendix.

A short list of references and pertinent websites appears, as well as a small section on “Where to see penguins.” An index completes the work. Penguins being one of the best-loved birds in the world, this volume will be welcomed by many. Reasonably priced and suitable for public libraries, it provides an excellent source of information on all penguin species, suitable for upper middle-school students and above.—Marion S. Muskiewicz, Science Librarian emerita, University of Massachusetts Lowell


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