Tuesday 9 August 2016

Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins

It was with a great sense of excited anticipation that I sat down to dip into Claire Cock-Starkey’s marvellous new book, Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins. Claire is a great friend of the salon and her books are always a treasury of little-known facts, eyebrow-raising tales and fascinating moments from history.

Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins asks readers whether they remember the first time they saw a penguin or even tasted a pineapple and if they do, what their reaction was. Of course, we probably don’t remember, because there is nothing that remarkable about these events today. Once upon a time, however, the thought of encountering a completely new animal, piece of fruit or even indigenous culture, was one that fascinated explorers and academics.

This book takes us back through the centuries via the archives of the British Library. In this meticulous researched work, Claire puts us in the shoes of these explorers and scholars, capturing their wonderment, excitement and, occasionally, fear as they record first encounters with all manner of flora and fauna.

Whilst the book is perfect for dipping into for a quick historical fix, it really rewards a more through read too and it’s easy to get caught up and lose hours! The archive material is wonderfully complemented by evocative illustrations and Claire’s writing is authoritative, accessible and entertaining too.

I really can’t recommend Penguins, Pineapples and Pangolins enough; treat yourself to a copy - you might even get to find out what polar bear tastes like! 

Available here!


Place to stand... said...

I am off to buy it - how wonderful ! We have in out local, tiny 14C Church a wooden sculpture of what is supposed to be an elephant - created by description of what an elephant looks like by someone who has never seen an elephant ! It's wonderful. Can't wait to read this.

Catherine Curzon said...

That sounds like a lovely thing!