Thursday, January 1, 2009

Author Review: Robert McClung

Robert McClung was born in the small city of Butler, Pennsylvania. He was the second child in his family of 3 boys and 1 girl. As a child he loved being outdoors and would explore the countryside around his home for hours at a time. He collected and brought home frogs, toads, garter snakes, rabbits, chipmunks, turtles, wasp and bird nests, and many other things. (Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there!?)

McClung remembered a time in third grade when he found a cocoon and took it to school. Luckily, his teacher appreciated curiosity in a child and allowed him to keep it in the classroom. She later showed him how to mount and preserve insects which led him to a lifelong hobby of insect collecting.

It was also around this time when McClung began writing stories - "mostly wild and woolly epics of adventure," he said in an autobiography.

McClung went on to Princeton after high school where he studied zoology, history, and literature. He found it difficult to decide what to do with his life because there were so many things he was interested in. He considered being a doctor, teacher, advertising agent, writer, and working at a zoo. But World War II came along and instead McClung spent five years in the Navy. Later he earned a master's degree in natural history and science from Cornell and spend time working at the Bronx Zoo in New York, where he ended up as curator of mammals and birds.

It wasn't until after McClung got married that he began writing books about animals for young people. His aim was "to show how different kinds of animals live, by relating the story of one individual animal in each book." That is what makes Robert McClung's books stand out in our home library. We didn't just read about animals, but we read about one specific animal and how it lived. Many of his books follow an animal through their whole life cycle.

These are especially good books for young readers. The print in many of his books is very large and easy on small eyes. Almost every page has an illustration, most by McClung himself.

Wings in the Woods was McClung's first book and describes many of his childhood activities and interests.

List of titles by Robert M. McClung:
Aquatic Insects and How They Live
All About Animals and Their Young
Amazing Egg, The
America's Endangered Birds
America's First Elephant
Animals That Build Their Homes
Bees, Wasps, and Hornets, and How They Live
Black Jack: Last of the Big Alligators
Blaze: The Story of a Striped Skunk
Bufo: The Story of a Toad
Buzztail: The Story of a Rattlesnake
Caterpillars and How They Live
Green Darner: The Story of a Dragonfly
Gypsy Moth: Its History in America
Honker: The Story of a Wild Goose
Horseshoe Crab
How Animals Hide
Hugh Glass, Mountain Man
Hunted Mammals of the Sea
Lady Bug
Last of the Wild, Vanished, and Vanishing Giants of the Animal World
Lili: A Giant Panda of Sichuan
Little Burma
Lost Wild America: The Story of Our Extinct and Vanishing Wildlife
Lost Wild Worlds
Luna: The Story of a Moth
Major: The Story of a Black Bear
Mammals and How They Live
Mice, Moose, and Men: How Their Populations Rise and Fall
Mighty Bears, The
Moths and Butterflies and How They Live
Mysteries of Migration
Old Bet and the Start of the American Circus
Otus: The Story of a Screech Owl
Peeper: First Voice of Spring
Rajpur: Last of the Bengal Tigers
Redbird: The Story of a Cardinal
Ruby Throat: The Story of a Hummingbird
Samson: Last of the California Grizzlies
Scoop: Last of the Brown Pelicans
Screamer: Last of the Eastern Panthers
Sea Star
Shag: Last of the Plains Buffalo
Snakes, Their Place in the Sun
Sphinx: the Story of a Caterpillar
Spike: The Story of a Whitetail Deer
Spotted Salamander
Stripe: The Story of a Chipmunk
Thor: Last of the Sperm Whales
Tiger: The Story of a Swallowtail Butterfly
Treasures in the Sea
True Adventures of Grizzly Adams, The
Vanishing Wildlife of Latin America
Vulcan: The Story of a Bald Eagle
Whooping Crane
Wings in the Woods

Please leave a comment if you know of other titles by Robert McClung or if you can complete some of the titles above. Thanks!
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