Each issue of Cornell Alumni Magazine covers books written by Cornell faculty, staff, and alumni. Unfortunately, we aren’t able to review all the books we receive; see more books on our “Cornell Authors ” page online.
Roland Kays ’93
The fact that wild animals can generally hear or smell humans from far away has historically made it nearly impossible to photograph them behaving naturally in their habitats. But the invention of camera traps—remotely activated cameras triggered by motion or infrared sensors—changed all that. These devices are “like microscopes for microbiologists or telescopes for astronomers,” Kays writes, enabling zoologists to see wildlife from a new and intimate perspective.
In this coffee table book, Kays, director of the Biodiversity Laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, has selected and assembled more than 600 camera trap photographs taken by more than 150 groups of scientists in myriad habitats. The images represent more than a decade of research and numerous breakthroughs, including the discovery of new species and the sighting of others previously thought to be extinct. Kays touches on such topics as the interaction between predators and prey, the reactionary patterns of wildlife to human activity, and the importance of trap photos to biodiversity conservation. “Truth be told, most of the millions of camera trap images collected each year are rather boring,” Kays writes. “But the mindless persistence of automated cameras and the considerable quantity of images being amassed in the name of science eventually result in some pretty amazing photographs.”
The Singles Game
Lauren Weisberger ’99
From the author of the New York Times bestselling The Devil Wears Prada comes this novel about Charlotte “Charlie” Silver, a beautiful and talented young tennis player. After a demoralizing injury and loss at Wimbledon, the sheltered athlete decides to shake things up by hiring a new trainer with a reputation for harsh tactics, a rude attitude—and big wins. Through his efforts to remake both her tennis game and her public image, Charlie is launched into a world of fame, drama, fashion, and romance in this story that Kirkus calls a “fun, fast-paced read filled with well-crafted and memorable characters.”
Frank H.T. Rhodes
In chapters that range from “Defrosting the Mammoth” to “The Reign of the Reptiles” to “The Rise of the Mammals,” the Cornell geology professor and president emeritus delves into the evolution of life on Earth. Understanding our origins, he argues, is essential to ensuring the future of the human population on an increasingly crowded and polluted planet. As he observes: “A study of the extinction events of the past may well be an important guide to preventing a looming mass extinction event in our own future.”
Megan Shull ’91, PhD ’98
In this young adult novel, a seventh grade girl gets stuck in a Groundhog Day-style cycle, but with a twist. She relives the same day over and over, each time as someone else—from a pop star to a farm hand to a homeless girl. At first she relishes the new experiences, but soon begins to worry that she’ll never make it home. Shull’s previous book, The Swap, is being adapted as a TV movie on the Disney Channel this fall.
Prairie Dog Song
Cindy Kane TrumboRe ’78
This richly illustrated hardcover for young readers depicts one of the most ecologically significant species of the American Plains—the prairie dog. Each double-page spread features a colorful collage—made by illustrator Susan Roth from hundreds of tiny pieces of paper—depicting the animals and their habitat, paired with verses and text that detail the resurgence of the species. “The clever layout makes this a book that can grow with its readers,” says Kirkus, which calls it “a worthy work of science-and-arts integration.”
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