The first book is one that I have been looking for for my boys since late last year. It is Fidget's Freedom, a children's book written by Stacey Patterson and illustrated by the excellent wildlife artist Vadim Gorbotov (here and here) with a dust jacket endorsement from Steve Bodio. I found it at the San Pedro House visitors center at the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. It is a relatively simple story of a young Peregrine Falcon being reintroduced into the wild as part of the Peregrine Fund's very successful conservation success story concerning the recovery of the Peregrine Falcon in the United States. The illustrations are superb depictions of birds of prey from someone intimate with these animals. Vadim has obviously spent a lot of time observing wildlife and knows how to transfer those observations into art. It has become one of Benton's favorites and one that I don't tire of reading to him either. The next book in the series of three will be titled Fidget's Folly and illustrations for the book can be found here.An example of Vadim Gorbatov's work
During my travels home from Arizona my plane out of Tucson was delayed about an hour causing me to miss my connection in Denver by a few minutes. I had to wait nearly four hours for the next plane to Billings. This wasn't all bad. I have made very little time for reading for myself lately, and the missed connection provided me the perfect opportunity to indulge in a good book. I had seen a book on whales and whaling in the airport bookstore during my layover on my way south, but upon entering the bookstore this time I realized I was in the mood for some good fiction. As I maneuvered my bags through the narrow aisles and dodge fellow bag-laden travelers, I noticed The Road perched on an overstock shelf above me. I was familiar with Cormac McCarthy's writing after being introduced to his work by Steve Bodio a number of years ago, and I was familiar with the gist of this story, but felt it might hit close to home for me with my young boys at home. I nearly passed it up. I am glad I didn't. I was right though, it did hit really close to home.
It is a story of a father and son journey through a future world devastated by an unnamed disaster that introduced enough dust into the atmosphere to effectively stop photosynthesis. The world that the father and son traverse seven or eight years after the event is harrowing, frightful, and all too possible. I was reminded of the post Katrina events on the Gulf Coast and how rapidly society degenerated into a free-for-all. I was also forcefully reminded of our dependence on sunlight and photosynthesis through the foreboding world McCarthy so simply, yet powerfully, described. The lack of animals of any sort, other than humans, was disturbing (I have no desire to go to the South Pole for the very same reason). McCarthy also pegged the relationship between a father and a young son. That was the hardest part of the book for me. He captured so well the terms of a relationship I am in the middle of right now that it made the book even more real and frightening for me. It still haunts me.