For Christmas 2012, I received an unexpected present from a friend. The accompanying note explained that he'd acquired a second copy of a beloved book from his childhood and had thought of me as someone likely to appreciate it. The book was Badger's Moon by Elleston Trevor, and appreciate it I certainly did.
Who was Elleston Trevor? A prolific writer across a variety of genres, under several names. He is most famous for the novel Flight of the Phoenix, which has been filmed twice, and for his series of spy stories starring an agent named Quiller (as in Memorandum). He also wrote a large number of books for children, including Scamper-Foot the Pine Marten, Ripple-Swim the Otter, and Wumpus, which stars a koala. He was born in 1920 and died in 1995.
Badger's Moon is part of a series of children's books featuring the Woodlanders. These anthropomorphic creatures inhabit an idyllic, timeless landscape of hills, woods and rivers, rather like Winnie-the-Pooh's Hundred Acre Wood or Mole and Ratty's Riverbank. Other titles in the series include Mole's Castle and Sweethallow Valley.
Solomon Wrightson, a wolf senior at Midland’s Richfield High, is in trouble. During his childhood and early adolescence, he was a bit of a loner but basically just one of the kids with his classmates. In high school, the wolves have tended to be the jock gang, going out together on the school baseball team. The coyotes also hang together, although they are looked on as second-class wolves.
But in their senior year, it all starts to fall apart for Sol. He had realized the year before that he is gay, and had joined a gay e-mail group where he formed a relationship with Carcy, an older ram living four hours away in Millenport. Sol thought that he had kept this a secret except from his study partner who is also his only friend, Meg Kinnick, a sardonic otter goth girl; they are two loners hanging out together. They have planned to go to Millenport together the next summer when Sol gets a car; Meg to get a job away from her parents, and Sol to move in with Carcy.
It's not easy to admit feelings for a long-time friend; but for the classmates in Mitti's debut graphic novel, their first admission must be to themselves.
It is 1955 and best friends Clover and Logainne are looking forward to graduating from Lincoln High School and getting on with their lives. However when Clover fumbles for an excuse to avoid going to the senior prom with someone, she blurts out Logainne's name as her intended date. Now the whole school thinks there is more to their friendship than meets the eye, putting both their reputations and Logainne's honors student status at risk. As they scramble to contain the damage, at least one of them begins to wonder where her heart truly lies. (back cover)
The bus stop sign and shelter were in front of a giant, white church. The Church of the First Race was an historical building, preserved from the time when humans still walked the Earth. It dwarfed the taller but smaller-scale high-rises around it. It was the oldest building in New LA. Kipper had been inside once and sat on the monstrous pews, but, like most cats, she didn’t feel comfortable with First Race doctrine. It was a dog religion – they preached that humans, the First Race, had left Earth as emissaries to the stars and would return to bring all the peoples of Earth into a confederation of interstellar sentience. Someday. (p. 1)
If you've been paying attention to the Recommended Anthropomorphics List, you might have noticed a movie called Leafie: A Hen into the Wild. Otherwise, you have probably never heard of it, unless you are one of Flayrah’s South Korean readers.
When I first saw Leafie's trailer, I was impressed with the animation and character design, and wondered how the movie would hold up. I was finally able to see the movie, and it is certainly one that furries should seek out.
For historical purposes, a collection of links and other tidbits posted to Newsbytes in August.
A four-year-old otter named Mo from Slimbridge Wetland Centre in Gloucestershire has started to climb trees. Mammal Manager John Crooks believes the behaviour may be a reaction to overcrowding from her younger sisters and seven-year-old mother Flo.
Mo began climbing at Christmas, and has ventured progressively higher over the past month. While the activity is not completely unheard of among otters, it has not been seen before at Slimbridge. [story tip: Kenoscope]
Hospital staff were amazed to see an otter appear to escort its injured mate to the front door of their building.
Marine mammal researcher Jennifer Hammock is conducting a test on sea otters' sense of smell in aquariums in three states. Currently in the test's early stages, the otters are being trained to indicate whether they can smell a substance sprayed into a hole on a board. They are learning quickly and have already proven to have much better senses of smell than previously thought, and even express fondness or displeasure towards specific scents. Scientists hope to have a better understanding of the olfactory mechanics and capabilities of sea otters and mustelids in general, and results may lead to "otter repellent" to warn wild animals from dangerous areas. Full articles published in The Californian and the Monterey County Herald.
Otters at an English aquarium enjoy a cool treat of fish frozen into ice blocks, but I don't know that mackerel flavoured popcicles will catch on with humans.
BBC online reports that England's otters are making a comeback, due in part to stream a wetlands clean up.
When you think of urban wildlife, most North Americans think raccoons or skunks. Most UKers think more along the lines of foxes and squirrels. But The Wildlife Trusts, a British conservation authority, say cleaner waters mean otters in urban centers.
Edinburgh, Newcastle, Leeds, Bristol, Canterbury and Cardiff are just some of the thirteen urban centers that are now home to resident otters, thanks to better water management and more access to picine food. Coming from virtual extinction in the 60's, this is very, very good news.
Director general of The Wildlife Trusts Dr. Simon Lyster said the recovery of the otter was "the most exciting success story of the last decade". Rural numbers are also on the rise, but large roadkill numbers for otters and other species are still a cause for concern.
A site reporting for the county of Devon (not far from where I live) in the SW of England report that plans are underway to erect a giant otter statue alongside one of the main highways into the region. The backers of the project are even taking design submissions for the figure. Read the whole article here.
A female sea otter experiencing frequent seizures was given the first-ever otter MRI exam today. Doctors fear that they'll have to euthanize her if they can't discover the cause of her seizures, and the MRI seems to have been inconclusive. Be sure to read the caption under the accompanying photo.
The first of over 250 underpasses for wildlife, especially otters, has been built in the Lake District of Britain. Concerned with otters being killed by crossing the busy road to get to their wetlands, the Highway Agency built the underpass hoping otters would use it instead. This reflects a growing concern for maintaining the island's unique biodiversity.