Adventures of a Young Naturalist
by David Attenborough
In 1954, David Attenborough was offered an opportunity to begin a new show for BBC called Zoo Quest. He jumped on it. He traveled the world, finding and capturing rare animals for the London Zoo and filming the whole expedition. Adventures of a Young Naturalist recounts three of these voyages, taking the reader first to Guyana in search of the giant anteater, then to Indonesia for the legendary Komodo dragon, and finally to Paraguay to find the giant armadillo.
As an animal lover, I was already bound to like this book. Perhaps what makes the book even more interesting was the fact that Attenborough assigns each animal a distinct personality. The animals are not just animals to him; they are each different from the others and unique in their own way. From the insatiable, bad-tempered bear cub to the confused, indignant sloth, Attenborough creates a wide variety of characters that keeps the reader entertained.
Through Adventures of a Young Naturalist, the reader can appreciate the amount of effort that went into seeking and then capturing the animals. Each country is a completely different adventure, filled with numerous surprises and pitfalls, and even when Attenborough thought he couldn’t have been more prepared, there was always something he hadn’t anticipated, a disaster that even his abundance of supplies couldn’t resolve. Through the author’s account, I developed a better appreciation for nature. I had always loved nature, especially animals, but this book opened my eyes to a whole new world of exotic animals and their equally exotic temperaments. Attenborough includes quite a few photos, which although old, still held detail that fascinated me.
Not only does Attenborough offer the reader a thorough account of his adventures, he also takes time to describe the people he meets and his relationship with them. In the process, the reader learns about their culture and their values. Although these cultures may have changed a good deal since the writing of this book, the descriptions add color and variety to the story, as well as plenty of humor.
I would recommend this book to readers of all ages, with some reservations. There is one brief scene in which two animals mate, and while this would usually be regarded as simply natural animal behavior, the author describes it in a rather suggestive way. In addition, there are a few instances in which mild profanity is used. Attenborough’s writing style is simple and easy to read, and if you are looking for a light, humorous book to lift your spirits, Adventures of a Young Naturalist is the perfect choice for you.