When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent
Cover Artist: Photography: Dan Hartman & Cassie Hartman
Review by Gayle Surrette
Walker Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780802796868
Date: 29 April 2008 List Price $17.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Dorothy Hinshaw Patent in When Wolves Returned:Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone manages to pack an incredible amount of information in just forty pages, especially considering that those pages also contain some incredible photographs of the park and its animals. Not only is the information presented in an easily understood manner but it gives a good overview of how an ecological system works and what happens when one element of that system is missing.
The book opens with an overview of Yellowstone Park and how it developed into the National Park that has pretty much become synonymous with giant geysers including "Old Faithful". What follows is a discussion in text and photos of the wolves of Yellowstone. The wolves were identified as a park problem and the solution was to hunt them – eliminating them from the park. The ramifications of the loss of the wolves is documented as is the reinstatement of the wolves back into the park.
This is one of the best explanation of the interconnectedness of flora, fauna, and geological setting that I've read in a long time. The writing is clear and concise. The impact on the entire park that resulted form the removal of wolves is clearly explained as is the recovery that was made when they were reinstated.
The audience for this book is supposed to be young readers from six to ten. However, in my opinion everyone interested in the impact on environment when a change is made should read this book. Anyone who wants to see how clearly and simply a complex subject can be written so that readers come away with a better understanding of the subject should read Patent's When the Wolves Returned....
While the writing is informative, clear, and concise, the photography by Dan and Cassie Hartman seamlessly join the text to clarify the points being made. This is one of those cases where neither the photo or the text would be as powerful and informative if they stood alone. Together text and pictures tell a very compelling story of where a simple change had unforeseen complications that took years to recognize, let alone to understand and develop a plan to restore balance.
If you're trying to interest a youngster in the environment or earth sciences, give When The Wolves Returned... a try.