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Nicola Davies (1958-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights

review book turtle sharks

(Stevie Morgan)

Personal

Born 1958, in Birmingham, England; Education: Kings College, Cambridge, UK, honors degree (zoology).

Addresses

Agent—Celia Catchpole, 56 Gilpin Ave., East Sheen, London.

Career

Freelance broadcaster and writer. Writes newspaper column for The Independent under the pseudonym Stevie Morgan.

Writings

Big Blue Whale, illustrated by Nick Maland, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997.

Bat Loves the Night, illustrated by Sarah Fox-Davies, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

One Tiny Turtle, illustrated by Jane Chapman, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Wild about Dolphins, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2001.

Birds, Kingfisher (Boston, MA), 2003.

Surprising Sharks, illustrated by James Croft, Candlewick Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.

Oceans and Seas, Kingfisher (Boston, MA), 2004.

FOR ADULTS; UNDER PSEUDONYM STEVIE MORGAN

Delphinium Blues, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 1999.

Fly Away Peter, Flame (London, England), 1999.

Checking Out, Hodder & Stoughton (London, England), 2002.

Sidelights

Nicola Davies is known for her ability to introduce topics about the natural world and its fascinating creatures to picture book audiences. Her works such as One Tiny Turtle, Surprising Sharks, and Bat Loves the Night combine lyrical narrative, hard facts, and artistic illustrations to spark young readers' interests in zoology, oceanography, and ecology. Having worked herself as a wildlife biologist tracking dolphin populations, Davies brings firsthand enthusiasm to her works as well as knowledge gleaned from the field.

Davies once told SATA: "I am interested in communication—communication about zoology, about science and about how we as humans experience and interpret our existence. I'm convinced that art and science are all part of the same picture and can contribute enormously to each other. It's the crossovers and combinations of fields of interest that motivate me in life and work."

The author's multiplicity of interests is evident in Big Blue Whale, Davies's highly regarded look at one of earth's most majestic animals. The book is filled with facts and anecdotes ranging from the texture of the blue whale's skin to its diet. "Conversational text and soft, crosshatched pen-and-ink illustrations ebb and flow in a fluid look at the largest mammal ever to inhabit the earth," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic, who added: "This unassuming book is teeming with new discoveries upon each rereading." Ellen Fader, writing in Horn Book, maintained that Big Blue Whale "offers young readers exactly what they want to know about this magnificent animal." Booklist reviewer Ellen Mandel concluded that Big Blue Whale "will definitely satisfy youngsters' curiosity."

Davies drew similar warm reviews for Bat Loves the Night. The picture book follows a pipistrelle bat as she embarks for an evening of hunting insects and darting through the landscape, using her internal sonar as a guide. Gillian Engberg in Booklist called the work "an enticing picture book … attractive [and] well-written." School Library Journal correspondent Cynde Marcengill also felt that the book is "distinguished by excellent writing." Davies succeeds in helping young children to understand that a seemingly frightening creature such as a bat is in fact a dedicated parent and an exciting participant in the nighttime world, as well as a helpful consumer of mosquitoes. A Publishers Weekly critic

In a quiet factual story for young readers, Nicola Davies portrays the long life of the loggerhead turtle and gives a concise account of its habitat. (From One Tiny Turtle, illustrated by Jane Chapman.)

praised Bat Loves the Night for its "enigmatic beauty" in both prose and illustration.

In One Tiny Turtle, the life cycle of an elusive loggerhead turtle unfolds through text and drawings, from the turtle's hatching and first dangerous toddle across the beach to the ocean, to her months hiding in a clump of driftwood, to her triumphant return, thirty years later, to the beach where she first hatched. Davies shows how loggerheads can travel thousands of miles through ocean currents and yet, by some unerring instinct, return to the location of their births. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised the picture book for its "accomplished storytelling," while Cyndi Giorgis and Nancy J. Johnson in Reading Teacher liked the "scientific fact written in poetic form." Another Reading Teacher reviewer thought that One Tiny Turtle works as "an outstanding read-aloud book," and Hazel Rochman in Booklist noted that the work's "simple, lyrical words … convey … astonishing facts."

A childhood fascination with dolphins led Davies to pursue a career in zoology, and as a young adult she worked with dolphin study teams in Newfoundland and the Indian Ocean. Wild about Dolphins is a memoir of those expeditions, as well as an introduction to dolphin anatomy, behavior, and ecology. Patricia Manning in School Library Journal suggested that youngsters "will find themselves entranced by the eager enthusiasm that pours from the pages." In Booklist, Ilene Cooper called Wild about Dolphins "energetic" and concluded that children interested in the marine mammals "will page through this with glee."

A similar personal/scientific sensitivity animates Surprising Sharks, a book that helps to dispel the shark's fearsome reputation as a predator of human beings. Using text and comparative illustrations, Davies shows the many different sizes and shapes of sharks and notes that only three of the 500-odd species of sharks have actually been known to attack people. Booklist contributor Todd Morning called Surprising Sharks "solid nonfiction on a popular subject," and Lynda Ritterman concluded in School Library Journal that the book's "interesting facts … should help this title make a splash."

Davies lives in Great Britain, where she also writes adult fiction under the pseudonym Stevie Morgan. Her novels for adults deal with relationship and child-rearing topics and stem from her painful divorce and her personal efforts to restore herself through humor and creative writing. Davies lives in an English cottage. In the evenings she enjoys watching the pipistrelle bats that nest in her roof.

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1997, Ellen Mandel, review of Big Blue Whale, p. 128; September 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Bat Loves the Night, p. 114; November 1, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Wild about Dolphins, p. 471; December 1, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of One Tiny Turtle, p. 656; October 15, 2003, Todd Morning, review of Surprising Sharks, p. 413.

Horn Book, May-June, 1997, Ellen Fader, review of Big Blue Whale, pp. 338-339.

Independent (London, England), Hilly Janes, "Family Affair: Divorce Is Like Death," p. 8.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1997, review of Big Blue Whale, pp. 871-72.

New York Times Book Review, March 10, 2002, review of Bat Loves the Night, p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, August 13, 2001, review of One Tiny Turtle, p. 312; November 12, 2001, "Natural Wonders," p. 62.

Reading Teacher, October, 2002, Cyndi Giorgis and Nancy J. Johnson, "Living Creatures," p. 200; November, 2002, review of One Tiny Turtle, p. 257.

School Library Journal, September, 2001, Cynde Marcengill, review of Bat Loves the Night, p. 187; October, 2001, Patricia Manning, review of Wild about Dolphins, p. 182; December, 2001, Margaret Bush, review of One Tiny Turtle, p. 120; October, 2003, Lynda Ritterman, review of Surprising Sharks, p. 148.

ONLINE

Candlewick Press, http://www.candlewick.com/ (December 9, 2003), "Nicola Davies."

Jacqueline Davies (1962-) Biography - Personal, Addresses, Career, Writings, Sidelights [next]

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