This is an excellent book in so many ways; Im not quite sure where to start. I obtained my copy at a library sale for pennies. As always, I am shocked by what the library chooses not to keep but I am glad for the opportunity to enjoy such wonderful books with my children at our leisure. This book has a distinct Native American feel to it. The author quotes from various Native Americans about their thoughts on nature in small vignettes that precede the actual description of each animals tracks. For instance, quoting Chief Seattle she writes, Man did not weave the web of life. He is only a strand in it, and accompanies the words with an illustration of a spider web.
Ms. Brown starts her book by explaining that animal tracks are not just their footprints but any sign of their passing left behind. She gives concrete examples in a conversational tone that will help the youngest explore become more aware of his surroundings. She then proceeds to introduce several animals native to her homeland in the north woods of Minnesota. For each animal she illustrates the creature, its footprints and habitat. She then provides information about what the animal eats and where it lives. How it cares for its young and what time of day it might be seen in simple language. I was surprised at how much information she was able to slip into each paragraph without seeming to do so.
An especially unique feature of this book is that the footprints are illustrated in actual size. So, the picture of an ermines footprint is the same size as you would see in the wild. The deer mouse, snowshoe hare, raven and even the moose are all represented with actual sized prints. A second unique feature of the book is the illustrations themselves. Ms. Brown created all of the illustrations in the book using woodblock prints. She helpfully provided a brief description of the technique used. I was glad for the information, as I knew the illustrations were unique, but not how they had been made.
The information in this book is solid without being boring and the illustrations add an extra special element making this a fine addition to our home library. Hurray for library sales!
To the young, oncoming naturalist, I would say: Never forget the trail, look ever for the track in the snow; it is the priceless, unimpeachable record of the creature's life and thought, in the oldest writing known on earth. Never forget the trail!