Author: L.E. Carmichael, PhD
Book Designer: Michael Penman
Illustrator: Jody Bronson
Photography: Brian Dust
Publication Date: August 8, 2013
Publisher: Ashby-BP Publishing
Recommended Age: 8+
Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
When you talk to a dog, does the dog talk back? Many people think so. But for a long time, scientists didn’t know how our furry friends learned to communicate with people. Luckily, Russian scientist Dmitri Belyaev had a plan. If he could tame wild red foxes, he could learn how dogs first came from wolves. By studying the way these foxes changed during domestication, the mystery of communication would be solved at a last. More than 50 years after the experiment began, Belyaev’s foxes have become so tame, you can have one as a pet! Packed with eye-popping photos and first-hand research, FOX TALK reveals the story of these amazing animals… and everything they’ve taught us about wolves, dogs, and communication.
My Thoughts: There is a whole generation of children who are in danger of thinking that foxes say “Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding!” and “Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho!” Don’t know what I’m talking about?! Check out the video of What Does the Fox Say by Ylvis. Fox Talk is an educational, research-based book that explores the domestication of dogs from the wolf species by examining the behavior and communication of foxes. Turns out they don’t say “Hatee-hatee-hatee-ho” either!
Using stunning photography of dogs, foxes, and wolves, author L.E. Carmichael (who has a PhD in wildlife population genetics) describes how, with increased contact with humans, wolves slowly evolved over time to become a new species – dogs! What is absolutely fascinating is that domestication resulted in not only behavioural change but actual DNA changes. In order to better understand how dog domestication took place, Carmichael presents the research findings of Russian scientist, Dmitri Belyaev who conducted a series of studies with foxes in the 1950’s.
I am a PhD researcher in Psychology so I could really appreciate Carmichael’s descriptions of the research methods, findings, and conclusions. While there are many findings about fox behaviour and communication cited, what was most interesting to me is that it only took 3 to 4 rounds of breeding with plenty of human contact and interaction for foxes to become domesticated. While the information is presented with a combination of photos, diagrams, “fact boxes”, and text, I did feel that there is a lot of information and much of it is quite complex. My 7 year-old son was interested in the book, but his attention did waver on occasion. This is definitely a book that a child would pick up and peek into from time to time rather than read cover-to-cover in one sitting.
Another interesting section of the book is near the back where there is information about owning foxes. When my children saw this section, they immediately wanted to adopt a fox and were sad to learn that this is not allowed in Canada. Apparently you cannot own a domestic fox in Canada, but you can in the United States (although this may vary state-to-state). Also, in the back of the book is a glossary of some of the more complex terms used in the book such as “breeding”, “DNA”, “domestication”, “evolution”, and more. I also thought it was a great idea to include an index at the back. The book itself is beautifully designed and absolutely chock-full of great information.
My Bottom Line: Fox Talk is an educational non-fiction title exploring the domestication of dogs by studying fox behaviour and communication. The information is presented with beautiful photographs, illustrations, bubbles/boxes of brief information, and descriptions of the research findings using age-appropriate language. I think this would be an excellent resource in elementary schools or for homeschoolers in particular and I highly recommend it. Ages 8+
About The Author: L.E. Carmichael
Lindsey Carmichael never outgrew that stage of childhood when nothing’s more fun than amazing your friends (and correcting your teachers!) with your stockpile of weird and wonderful facts. Her sense of wonder came in handy during her career as a scientist, and in 2006, she received the Governor General’s Medal for her PhD thesis, Ecological Genetics of Northern Wolves and Arctic Foxes. Lindsey finds talking about science more fun than doing it, however, and now writes for kids, teens, and occasionally adults (a sense of wonder is essential for this, too).
Lindsey publishes under the name L E Carmichael, and her work has appeared in Dig, Highlights for Children, Kiki, and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic. Her published science books cover everything from animal migration to hybrid cars. When not digging up obscure or wacky details for her next nonfiction project, Lindsey’s probably working on her young adult fantasy novel.
* Giveaway *
Prize: The Grand Prize winner will receive a soft cover edition of Fox Talk plus a “swag bag” containing a stuffed FOX friend, FOX TALK notebook, FOX TALK tote bag, FOX TALK beverage mug, & Ethical Publishing T-shirt (total value estimated at $50)*. If a winner from outside the United States, Canada, or Great Britain is drawn, they will receive an electronic copy of the book + $30 PayPal cash (USD).
Contest runs: December 6 to December 20th, 11:59 pm, 2013
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, Ashby-BP Publishing and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.
* Items in the prize package may be vary slightly depending on availability, but the total value will be roughly $50.
* I was given this book free-of-charge by the author in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own. The author contacted us to participate in our Book Promotion Program where we will tweet and share information about this book, the author, and the giveaway.*