I love novelized psychology books. I say novelized because the text flows so much more smoothly then an academic research paper, which I admit I love to read also. Yet, there is something exciting about getting to read the words of a well written science journalist. It is even better to read the words of the scientist themselves. You get their thought process and insight which goes beyond just an academic paper.
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are is a bit outside of what I would normally read. I am not an animal lover. I am so fascinated by trying to understand humans I rarely stop to think about animals. In the research I read about animals all the time. Yet, it is always in relation to what it is telling us about human nature. It isn't specific to what it is telling us about the animals themselves. It is ironic that I have never really thought about this considering I live with a teenage son who is fascinated by animal behavioralism and a pre-teen daughter who lives for anything related to cats.
This is a psychology book for animals. Humans are an afterthought, they are actively talked down upon. The field of psychology itself is constantly ridiculed. Since this is my background and fascination I was not thrilled by De Waal's perspective on psychology. I did find the different perspective fascinating. I have rethought about research, specifically research involving animals, in a new way since reading this novel. I will never read a study without thinking what it means for the species in the study, not just what it means for humans.
That being said I have one main grip with this book. De Waal continually equates the amount of neurons with intelligence. He questions if elephant are more intelligent then other species because of the massive quantities of neurons. He also mentions that amount of neurons of octopi and their location throughout their eight limbs. I question his assumption that neurons equate to intelligence. Using human studies to understand animals I would reference studies that look at individuals with autism spectrum disorders. It was found that individuals with autism tend to have larger brain sizes (at first studies using head circumference and later using actual MRI scans). It was also shown that the more neurons in the brain the less verbal and social ability of the individual on the autism spectrum. It is not just the amount of neurons in a brain - it is how well they synch together that helps determine functioning. I am not certain how this would impact De Waal's statements, yet it was a topic that continuously unnerved me as I read.
Overall, I found it to be an interesting read with a perspective that I personally had not encountered before. The writing style flowed well and the entire book kept my interest. I would be interested in reading De Waal's earlier novels.
I really enjoy this series. It is a great way to learn about many historical and modern people. It is a great series for students to research an individual. For adults it is an interesting, and fast, way to learn something new about someone you find interesting.
I was excited to find out about Joanne Rowling. I had heard her story many times, and was uncertain if there would be anything new to learn in this book. However, considering I did not even know her first name is Joanne I figured I had a lot left to learn. I was correct. I only knew about a small portion of JK Rowling's life. It was fascinating, if you like Harry Potter at all then this is worth reading.
For those who read my reviews you know that I am not a huge fan of rhyming. It is hard to rhyme well. I tried to just ignore it, but there were too many times in this book were it just led to ackward word and sentence combinations just to keep with the rhyming scheme. It took away from the amazing content in the book. Also, at times it went a bit too much into Harry Potter and not enough focus on JK Rowling. Although, I know that this is hard because the two are pretty much synonymous.
I am really glad I picked up this book. I learned a lot about one of my favorite authors. It was an interesting look into her background, her struggle to become a published author, and her life after.
The Inspiring Tale of Wilma Rudolph makes the claim of being for readers from one to hundred. This is a very bold claim, one that this book surprisingly delivers on.
The book is a picture book that is 51 pages long. Each page has four lines of text and utilizes an A,A,B,B rhyming technique. This means the first and second lines rhyme together and the third and fourth lines rhyme together. If you have read my other reviews then you know that I am not a huge fan of rhyming. It is often not pulled off well. Random words are added to satisfy the rhyming sequence, and even the order of information can be altered. Rhyming just is not worth it. It is no exception in this book. The rhyming sequence did nothing to add to the book. After the first few pages I just did my best to ignore it completely.
The pictures are colorful, but are more of a clip art collection with some pictures thrown in. I enjoyed that the book is different. It is very colorful, and the words are presented on wood panels to offset it from the backgrounds. I do wish that more actual pictures were included, it would have been a big asset to the book.
I picked the book on Wilma Rudolph because I wanted to know more about her. I am happy to say that I now know a lot more about her. The book is full of content that was interesting to me as an adult, but I still fill it would be appropriate for a child. That is a hard combination to reach, but Locker did reach it. I found out many aspects of Rudolph's life from her childhood, her professional career as an olympian, and even after she retired. It is amazing what she overcame to get where she did. I really wish that there was a bit more on the fact that she was an african american women athlete in a time when there was still segregation. It was touched on, but only briefly.
As an adult this series is a great way to get a brief overview of someone's life. I could see this series being a great edition to a home library to give children information about a wide variety of individuals. However, the books will stand alone if you want to buy one for someone your child is interested in knowing more about.
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