Honor and glory to wildebeests! Thank you,Washington Post, for choosing The Magnificent Migration as one of the top books for children of the year.
A tale of two Franklins
Sy was greeted by a library full of little octopuses at the Franklin Elementary School in Keene, New Hampshire…
a library full of little octopuses at the Franklin Elementary School in Keene, New Hampshire
… And on the other side of the country in Port Angeles, Washington, the 5th grade in the Franklin Elementary School there sent these wonderful thank you notes after Sy’s visit.
Kate Missett, a columnist for the Wyoming Eagle Tribune wrote this recently about Sy:
I have a friend I’ve never met in person. She is one of my dearest friends, and would immediately fit in with all my friends in Cheyenne. I began corresponding with her four years ago, via email, and something just clicked between us.
She is Sy Montgomery, a New York Times bestselling author. She writes about wild, and not so wild, animals, and travels all over the world to do so. Her best seller about her pet pig, Christopher Hogwood, who grew to over 700 lbs., is hilarious and endearing. Reading The Good, Good Pig was probably sufficient unto itself, but I was highly motivated to continue reading Sy’s books.
I cannot remember the order in which I read them, but my two favorite books by Sy are Journey of the Pink Dolphins and Spell of the Tiger.
The pink dolphins live in the mysterious Amazon River, which is actually two rivers that don’t combine; one is brown and one is blue. There is a high degree of mythology which the people who live beside the river impart to the pink dolphins. It is said they take on the form of a man and join humans along the riverbank, seducing a woman and taking her to live with them under the water. That’s a dizzily marvelous piece of mythology; it would be wonderful to know how it came to be. Do people from the villages actually disappear?
At the end of this book, Sy actually got to swim with the dolphins at the mouth of the Amazon River. I told her that the book should have ended with her permanently swimming with them, and she said that if the book is ever made into a movie that is the way she imagines ending it, too!
Spell of the Tiger is terrifying–and funny, too. The subtitle is The Man-Eaters of Sundarbans. Sundarbans is the largest tidal delta in the world. From Wikipedia, I learned the following:
The Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It spans from the Hooghly River in India’s state of West Bengal to the Baleswar River n Bangladesh. It comprises closed and open mangrove forests, agriculturally used land, mudflats and barren land, and is intersected by multiple tidal streams and channels.
It is here that tigers hunt and kill people, not just on land but in the water as well.
I said that the book is funny, too. It is undoubtedly a conundrum that a book about man-eating tigers could be funny, but the red tape Sy encountered in getting access to the Sundarbans reminded me of Major Major in the book and movie Catch 22. The “catch” was that if someone went to Major Major’s office, and Major Major was in his office, the person wanting to see him was told that the Major was out. If Major was out of his office, the person was told he was in. And that’s what the bureaucracy in Calcutta was like for Sy and her companion. After waiting for hours to meet someone in the Forestry Department, they were finally “seen” by someone who totally ignored them and read a newspaper instead.
It struck me as funny and I felt guilty for laughing about a passage in a book about man-eating tigers. Sy assured me it was meant to be funny and that she was glad I “got” it.
But I didn’t really get the gist of the book until weeks later. It was one of those “aha” moments! I recently gave a copy of this book to a friend to see if he would also find the hidden message of this book. It’s not a spoiler for you to know it ahead of time, but it is a magnificent reward to find it yourself. If you really want to know what it is before you read the book, email me and I’ll tell you the message.
It took me years to find this soul mate of mine, but we travelled along similar paths, although mine was through books and hers was through doing. Years before I met Sy through her books, we both developed a love for octopuses. I bought a paperback book about these gentle, intelligent creatures only to find out that Sy had written a blurb for its hardback edition and knew the author. I bought another book about Kanzi, the bonobo chimp who taught himself how to verbally interact with people using symbols, and told Sy about it; she replied that she knew all about Kanzi.
She is friendly and witty and funny. I also have a preoccupation with spiders (I had a cat-faced spider living above my backdoor all last summer), and I jokingly said to Sy, “What are the odds? Spiders and octopuses?” She replied, “I’d say about 8 to 1!”
I have tried and failed to meet with her, but I may have another opportunity in June when I travel with a friend who is attending a college reunion. The reunion is in Middlebury, Vermont, and Sy lives in Hancock, New Hampshire, a distance of less than 150 miles. Even if all I get to do is hug her while crying tears of joy to be finally meeting her in person, the extra miles will be worth it.
Sy sends a big eight-armed hug to the octo-stylin’ librarians of the North Olympic Library system. Thanks for your tentacular outfits, fantastic decorations, and for amassing crowds of avid readers to celebrate octopus friends. Sy visited three fantastic libraries in Port Angeles, Sequim, and Forks, and the wonderful students at Quileute Tribal School in La Push.
The North Olympic Library System embraces The Soul of an Octopus. Sy spoke with 300 fifth graders from five schools at the Port Angeles Public Main Library where sea art greeted her.