Date of this Version
Great Plains Research Vol. 21, No. 2, 2011
Short of being in the presence of a creature, a really good photograph of one can also make a lasting impression. That is something RARE does compellingly, with exquisite portrait photos of 68 North American species that are dwindling dangerously in numbers or have recently recovered from the brink of extinction. Included are such Great Plains natives as the lesser prairie chicken, the interior least tern, and the black-footed ferret. All creatures were photographed with either a pure white or black background, but unconventional poses surprise the reader with each turn of the page, while creative framing and layout engage the eye. It's as if we were having a friendly visit with these plants and animals in their living rooms, not watching them pose stiffly for mug shots. A mouse washes its face, a toad leaps off the page, an eagle looks the other way, a salamander raises its forefoot as if to give us a "high five," a butterfly emerges from its chrysalis. Each portrait has only a brief paragraph of text accompanying it, but introductory essays by Joel Sartore and noted author Verlyn Klinkenborg frame the narrative well and emphasize the importance of what Aldo Leopold famously established as the first rule of intelligent tinkering: "save all the pieces."