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NYT Best Illustrated Books of the Year Already!

A Scientist in the Making

The 1940 Handbook for Boys, which I purchased for half a dollar, became my most cherished possession. Fifty years later, I still read my original annotated copy with remembered pleasure. Richly illustrated, with a cover by Norman Rockwell, it was packed with useful information on the subjects I liked most. It stressed outdoor life and natural history: camping, hiking, swimming, hygiene, semaphore signaling, first aid, mapmaking, and above all, zoology and botany, page after page of animals and plants wonderfully illustrated, explaining where to find them, how to identify them. The public schools and church had offered nothing like this. The Boy Scouts legitimated Nature as the center of my life.

from the remarkable memoir Naturalist, by the Harvard-based scientist Edward O. Wilson (Island Press/Shearwater Books, 1994)


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My boys have half a shelf of old Boy Scout handbooks, some originals found at garage sales and the Goodwill for about as much as Wilson paid, and also, for the older ones, Dover reprints. They are wonderful. They pick up extra copies when they have one, because it's good to have one in the fort, one in the truck to read while riding around, one in the grass somewhere (oops!), and one in the bed.

If you like "Naturalist", I'd also suggest "Dune Boy" by Edwin Way Teale...

How much do I love The Naturalist! Did I read about it at Farm School? It was somewhere on the blogs...

Now I'll have my eye out for these old Scouting books. Thanks for the tip on Dune Boy, too.

The Naturalist sounds like something I would like very much...I shall look out for it at some point when I have a clear expanse of reading time!

I hope your chickens are keeping well; ours have almost paid off their chicken wire and straw debt (160 eggs at 20 cents an egg...)

Charlotte, the chickens are having a bit of a rough patch this fall. Neither one is laying; I think their coop was in too much shade. I moved it into direct sunlight. Fuzzy had a big molt, and then got a little under the weather. I wormed them both, and hope Fuzzy will return to her formerly robust self. Lovey is looking downright plump, and her hair-do looks marvelous. All that took was a molt. It's possible that Lovey was older than the seller told us and has quit laying altogether.

I'm glad your girls are doing well!

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