Thursday, February 12, 2009

Must Be Seen to Be Believed

Thomas Marent's Rainforest is one of the most beautiful books I have ever seen. No words can describe it adequately. Seriously: 360 pages of intense, amazing portraits of species found in rainforests throughout the world. The book has sections devoted to panoramas, diversity, survival (subsections: predator, arms and armor, and deception), cycles (subsections: flower to fruit, lifelines, and recyclers), and society.

Some of these pictures will make you gasp. You can't help it. (It happened just now: I opened the book at random to a photo of caterpillars, page 310 - OMG!!)

It's a large, coffee table-sized book. In addition to the gorgeous photographs he gathered over 16 years, Marent includes descriptions that can make you want to explore these organisms (plants, animals, fungi...) more. For example, "Australia's peppermint-stick insect (Megacrania batesii) is so called because it exudes a peppermint-scented liquid." Whoa! I love this kind of stuff!

He also writes about being there, doing the photography - "My guide gave me strict orders to stay at least 8 yards... from the animals, but I made the mistake of getting too close. One of the chimps, alarmed by my presence, started screaming, shaking branches, and thumping the ground. Then the whole group followed. I was petrified. Chimps are fantastically strong, and they can be brutally violent. My guide whispered that I should keep totally still and avoid eye contact. I stared at the ground and waited, my heart pounding so hard I could feel it in my throat. After a minute, the chimps began to quiet down, and I started edging away."

One of the online bookstores claims that the book includes a CD with sounds of the rainforest. Our library copy did not, so you may want to confirm that, if you're interested in buying Rainforest. And if the CD exists, please let me know!

The book alone is enough to inspire us to preserve as much as we can of earth's rainforests. It really is stunning. Check it out!

[Post pic of a panther chameleon - see more interior photos at the DK site.]

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