Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Magnificent Migration: on Safari with Africa’s last great herds by Sy Montgomery

The Magnificent Migration: on Safari with Africa’s last great herds
by Sy Montgomery; with photos by Roger and Logan Wood
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2019

The mystery and wonder of migration, from the wildebeest to the monarch butterfly, is at the heart of Montgomery’s latest science book. Traveling in Africa with Dr. Richard Despard Estes, the world’s top expert on wildebeests, Montgomery witnesses the greatest land migration on Earth: the wildebeest crossing of the Serengeti. 

Balancing details of the wildebeests trek across the Serengeti, alternating chapters illuminate how human interference has negatively impacted other species that depend on migration for survival. (like the arctic tern, Christmas island red crabs, and monarch butterflies). 

Montgomery emphasizes the wonder and beauty of the Serengeti ecosystem with the inevitable warning that humans, a recent species to Earth, holds the fate of this beautiful landscape, as we do everywhere on Earth, in our hands. Her powerful narrative reminds readers of just how interconnected every living thing is to life on Earth. Destroying one ecosystem, in this case the Serengeti, can mean the death of a species which, in turn, will impact another and another. For the Monarch butterfly, genetically engineered crops made to withstand applications of an herbicide, Roundup, has allowed farmers to wipe out virtually every single milkweed plant on their land which, in turn, threatens  the existence of the Monarch.

The book is loaded with beautiful color photographs by father and son team, Roger and Logan Wood, that perfectly highlight what is being discussed in the text. 

Back matter includes an epilogue, selected bibliography, ways to get involved to save the Serengeti, and index.


After reading The Magnificent Migration, there is no question, hands down, that Sy Montgomery is able to take any topic and make it a page-turner. She is one of my favorite writers of nonfiction. 

I borrowed a copy of this book from my local library to write this review.

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