Something rotten - a fresh look at roadkill by Heather L. Montgomery
Bloomsbury Children's Books, 2018. ISBN 9781681199009
(Age: 10+) Highly recommended. Themes: Biology. Non-fiction [591.7] In this easy-to-read memoir, Heather Montgomery investigates the impact of roadkill, for the most part in the USA but also high profile international cases such as the mysterious cancer decimating the Tasmanian Devil population.
Through her personal interest, we are led to appreciate the unsung work of those whose relationship to roadkill goes far beyond the conversational style of this accomplished naturalist and educator. We are introduced to experts who recycle roadkill for: research, conservation, data collection, museum exhibits, zoo predators, macabre art and even for human consumption. Montgomery raises our awareness of both the value of specimens and the volume of data by exploring methods of reducing the carnage as enthusiastically as her own taxidermy skills.
But Montgomery's exposition is far more interesting because of her own story. Each roadkill find links to data that sends us off on each new tangent. We screw our noses up with her at the gross bits, laugh or acknowledge what individuals and governments and individuals are achieving. Her information always concludes with potential action on some level. For instance, motorists are littering less but are still throwing out biodegradable scraps. What we thought we were recycling lures animals to rely on the hazardous blacktop for food.
She teaches taxidermy in one chapter, visits a busy wildlife hospital and rehab centre in another; and in another outlines the engineering required for safe animal migration. One chapter hosts a rogue taxidermist producing macabre art.
This handbook, like Heather's website categorizes hundreds of footnotes and links to further information and calls to action, as well the more traditional generic features so essential for revisiting information: Index, Contents and Annotated Bibliography. Kevin O'Malley's illustrations are light on, but they consolidate and spark interest as do Montgomery's footnotes, which always enrich the original tale.
You will be fascinated, even if you don't normally read non-fiction. To sell biology, Montgomery has harnessed our curiosity using a gross and thus sidestepped environmental impact of the world's roads and highways.