Laurence (Patrick) Pringle (1935-) Biography
Personal, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Sidelights
Born 1935, in Rochester, NY; children: (first marriage) Heidi, Jeffrey, Sean; (third marriage) Jesse, Rebecca. Education: Cornell University, B.S., 1958; University of Massachusetts, M.S., 1960; Syracuse University, doctoral studies, 1960-62. Hobbies and other interests: Photography, films, sports, surf fishing.
Freelance writer and photographer, wildlife biologist, and educator. Lima Central School, Lima, NY, high school science teacher, 1961-62; American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, associate editor, 1963-65, senior editor, 1965-67, executive editor of Nature and Science (children's magazine), 1967-70; New School for Social Research (now New School University), New York, NY, faculty member, 1976-78; Kean College of New Jersey, Union, writer-in-residence, 1985-86; Highlights for Children Writers Workshop, faculty member, beginning 1985.
New Jersey Institute of Technology Award, 1970, for The Only Earth We Have; Special Conservation Award, National Wildlife Federation, 1978; honor book designation, New York Academy of Sciences, 1980, for Natural Fire: Its Ecology in Forests; Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Massachusetts Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, 1981; Eva L. Gordon Award, American Nature Society, 1983; John Burroughs List of Nature Books for Young Readers, 1991, for Batman: Exploring the World of Bats, 1993, for Jackal Woman: Exploring the World of Jackals, and 1997, for An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly; A Book Can Develop Empathy Award, New York State Humane Association, 1991, for Batman: Exploring the World of Bats; Orbis Pictus Honor Book designation for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children, National Council of Teachers of English, 1996, for Dolphin Man: Exploring the World of Dolphins, and 1998, for An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly; Nonfiction Award, Washington Post /Children's Book Council, 1999, for body of work; dozens of Pringle's titles have been selected National Science Teachers Association Outstanding Science Trade Books for Children.
FOR YOUNG PEOPLE; NONFICTION
Dinosaurs and Their World, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1968.
The Only Earth We Have, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1969.
(Editor under name Laurence P. Pringle) Discovering the Outdoors: A Nature and Science Guide to Investigating Life in Fields, Forests, and Ponds, Natural History Press (New York, NY), 1969.
(Editor) Discovering Nature Indoors: A Nature and Science Guide to Investigations with Small Animals, Natural History Press (New York, NY), 1970.
(And photographer) From Field to Forest: How Plants and Animals Change the Land, World (New York, NY), 1970.
(And photographer) In a Beaver Valley: How Beavers Change the Land, World (New York, NY), 1970.
Cockroaches: Here, There, Everywhere, illustrated by James and Ruth McCrea, Crowell (New York, NY), 1970.
Ecology: Science of Survival, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1971.
One Earth, Many People: The Challenge of Human Population, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1971.
From Pond to Prairie: The Changing World of a Pond and Its Life, illustrated by Karl W. Stuecklen, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1972.
Pests and People: The Search for Sensible Pest Control, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1972.
This Is a River: Exploring an Ecosystem, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1972.
Estuaries: Where Rivers Meet the Sea, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1973.
Follow a Fisher, illustrated by Tony Chen, Crowell (New York, NY), 1973.
Into the Woods: Exploring the Forest Ecosystem, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1973.
Twist, Wiggle, and Squirm: A Book about Earthworms, illustrated by Peter Parnall, Crowell (New York, NY), 1973.
Recycling Resources, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1974.
Chains, Webs, and Pyramids: The Flow of Energy in Nature, illustrated by Jan Adkins, Crowell (New York, NY), 1975.
City and Suburb: Exploring an Ecosystem, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975.
Energy: Power for People, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1975.
Water Plants, illustrated by Kazue Mizumura, Crowell (New York, NY), 1975.
Listen to the Crows, illustrated by Ted Lewin, Crowell (New York, NY), 1976.
The Minnow Family: Chubs, Dace, Minnows, and Shiners, illustrated by Dot and Sy Barlowe, Morrow (New York, NY), 1976.
Our Hungry Earth: The World Food Crisis, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1976.
Animals and Their Niches: How Species Share Resources, illustrated by Leslie Morrill, Morrow (New York, NY), 1977.
The Controversial Coyote: Predation, Politics, and Ecology, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1977.
Death Is Natural, Four Winds (New York, NY), 1977.
The Gentle Desert: Exploring an Ecosystem, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1977.
The Hidden World: Life under a Rock, illustrated by Erick Ingraham, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1977.
Dinosaurs and People: Fossils, Facts, and Fantasies, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1978.
The Economic Growth Debate: Are There Limits to Growth?, Franklin Watts (New York, NY), 1978.
Wild Foods: A Beginner's Guide to Identifying, Harvesting, and Cooking Safe and Tasty Plants from the Outdoors, illustrated by Paul Breeden, Four Winds Press (New York, NY), 1978.
Natural Fire: Its Ecology in Forests, Morrow (New York, NY), 1979.
Nuclear Power: From Physics to Politics, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1979.
Lives at Stake: The Science and Politics of Environmental Health, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1980.
Frost Hollows and Other Microclimates, Morrow (New York, NY), 1981.
What Shall We Do with the Land?: Choices for America, Crowell (New York, NY), 1981.
Vampire Bats, Morrow (New York, NY), 1982.
Water: The Next Great Resource Battle, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1982.
Being a Plant, illustrated by Robin Brickman, Crowell (New York, NY), 1983.
"The Earth Is Flat"—and Other Great Mistakes, illustrated by Steve Miller, Morrow (New York, NY), 1983.
Feral: Tame Animals Gone Wild, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1983.
Radiation: Waves and Particles/Benefits and Risks, En-slow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 1983.
Wolfman: Exploring the World of Wolves, Scribner (New York, NY), 1983.
Animals at Play, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1985.
Nuclear War: From Hiroshima to Nuclear Winter, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 1985.
Here Come the Killer Bees, Morrow (New York, NY), 1986, revised edition published as Killer Bees, 1990.
Throwing Things Away: From Middens to Resource Recovery, Crowell (New York, NY), 1986.
Home: How Animals Find Comfort and Safety, Scribner (New York, NY), 1987.
Restoring Our Earth, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 1987.
Rain of Troubles: The Science and Politics of Acid Rain, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1988.
The Animal Rights Controversy, Harcourt (New York, NY), 1989.
Bearman: Exploring the World of Black Bears, photographs by Lynn Rogers, Scribner (New York, NY), 1989.
Nuclear Energy: Troubled Past, Uncertain Future, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1989.
Living in a Risky World, Morrow (New York, NY), 1989.
The Golden Book of Insects and Spiders, illustrated by James Spence, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1990.
Global Warming: Assessing the Greenhouse Threat, Arcade (New York, NY), 1990.
Saving Our Wildlife, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 1990.
Batman: Exploring the World of Bats, photographs by Merlin D. Tuttle, Scribner (New York, NY), 1991.
Living Treasure: Saving Earth's Threatened Biodiversity, illustrated by Irene Brady, Morrow (New York, NY), 1991.
Antarctica: The Last Unspoiled Continent, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1992.
The Golden Book of Volcanoes, Earthquakes, and Powerful Storms, illustrated by Tom LaPadula, Western Publishing (Racine, WI), 1992.
Oil Spills: Damage, Recovery, and Prevention, Morrow (New York, NY), 1993.
Chemical and Biological Warfare: The Cruelest Weapons, Enslow (Berkeley Heights, NJ), 1993.
Jackal Woman: Exploring the World of Jackals, photographs by Patricia D. Moehlman, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1993.
Scorpion Man: Exploring the World of Scorpions, photographs by Gary A. Polis, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.
Fire in the Forest: A Cycle of Growth and Renewal, illustrated by Bob Marstall, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Dinosaurs! Strange and Wonderful, illustrated by Carol Heyer, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1995.
Coral Reefs: Earth's Undersea Treasures, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1995.
Vanishing Ozone: Protecting Earth from Ultraviolet Radiation, Morrow (New York, NY), 1995.
Dolphin Man: Exploring the World of Dolphins, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1995.
Taking Care of the Earth: Kids in Action, illustrated by Bobbie Moore, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1996.
Smoking: A Risky Business, Morrow (New York, NY), 1996.
An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly, illustrated by Bob Marstall, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 1997.
Elephant Woman: Cynthia Moss Explores the World of Elephants, photographs by Cynthia Moss, Atheneum (New York, NY), 1997.
Nature! Wild and Wonderful (autobiography), photographs by Tim Holmstrom, Richard C. Owen (Katonah, NY), 1997.
Everyone Has a Bellybutton: Your Life before You Were Born, illustrated by Clare Wood, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1997.
Drinking: A Risky Business, Morrow (New York, NY), 1997.
Animal Monsters: The Truth about Scary Creatures, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 1997.
One-Room School, illustrated by Barbara Garrison, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 1998.
Bats! Strange and Wonderful, illustrated by Meryl Henderson, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2000.
The Environmental Movement: From Its Roots to the Challenges of a New Century, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2000.
Sharks! Strange and Wonderful, illustrated by Meryl Henderson, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2001.
A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly, illustrated by Bob Marstall, Orchard Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Scholastic Encyclopedia of Animals, Scholastic Reference (New York, NY), 2001.
Global Warming: The Threat of Earth's Changing Climate, SeaStar Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Strange Animals, New to Science, Marshall Cavendish (New York, NY), 2002.
Crows! Strange and Wonderful, illustrated by Bob Marstall, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2002.
Dog of Discovery: A Newfoundland's Adventures with Lewis and Clark, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2002.
Come to the Ocean's Edge: A Nature Cycle Book, illustrated by Michael Chesworth, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2003.
Whales! Strange and Wonderful, illustrated by Meryl Henderson, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2003.
Snakes! Strange and Wonderful, illustrated by Meryl Henderson, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2004.
Penguins! Strange and Wonderful, illustrated by Meryl Henderson, Boyds Mill Press (Homesdale, PA), 2005.
FICTION; PICTURE BOOKS
Jesse Builds a Road, illustrated by Leslie Holt Morrill, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1989.
Octopus Hug, illustrated by Kate Salley Palmer, Boyds Mills (New York, NY), 1993.
Naming the Cat, illustrated by Katherine Potter, Walker (New York, NY), 1997.
Bear Hug, illustrated by Kate Salley Palmer, Boyds Mills Press (Honesdale, PA), 2003.
(And photographer) Wild River (adult nonfiction) Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1972.
(With others) Rivers and Lakes (adult nonfiction), Time-Life Books (New York, NY), 1985.
(Author of foreword) Robert Few, Macmillan Children's Guide to Endangered Animals, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1993.
Contributor to Audubon, Ranger Rick's Nature Magazine (sometimes under pseudonym Sean Edmund), Highlights for Children, and Smithsonian; contributor of essays to professional magazines on children's literature and education including Reading Teacher, and to books, including Celebrating Children's Books: Essays on Children's Literature in Honor of Zena Sutherland, edited by Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye, Lothrop, 1974; The Voice of the Narrator in Children's Literature, edited by Charlotte Otten and Gary Schmidt, Greenwood Press, 1989; Nonfiction for Young Adults: From Delight to Wisdom, edited by Betty Carter and Richard Abrahamson, Oryx, 1990; and Vital Connections: Children, Science, and Books, edited by Wendy Saul and Sybille Jagusch, Heinemann, 1991.
A prolific author of nonfiction, fiction, and picture books, as well as several popular fiction titles, Laurence Pringle has been praised as one of the top writers of informational books for readers from elementary through high school. Educated as a wildlife biologist, Pringle is noted as the author of authoritative, well-researched works that inform readers about the natural sciences and the environment in a manner considered both accurate and interesting. He is noted for transforming complex material on scientific and ecological subjects into lucid, balanced overviews of sophisticated topics, some of which are not often treated in books for children. Several of the author's titles are regarded as definitive references consistently cited as among the best books available on their respective subjects.
Pringle's works provide information on nature and the environment while emphasizing the dangers that threaten the earth and its resources. Several of these books are about the world's rivers, forests, oceans, and deserts as well as about man-made hazards such as nuclear energy, nuclear war, global warming, oil spills, pollution, acid rain, and radiation. Pringle also writes about what people can do to protect their environment, such as recycling, fighting world hunger, and protecting biological diversity. In addition, he has addressed such subjects as mammals, insects, birds, and fish as well as related topics, including the animal rights movement and what happens to tame animals released in the wild. He has also authored biographies of prominent naturalists, illustrating their work with such animals as wolves, scorpions, bats, dolphins, and elephants.
Born in Rochester, New York, Pringle grew up in Mendon, a rural town just south of his birthplace; as he once noted in an essay for Something about the Author Autobiography Series (SAAS), "I was a country boy." Pringle and his older brother explored the woods, ponds, and creeks near their home. Pringle was educated in a one-room schoolhouse, where one teacher handled the first through eighth grades; in 1998, he wrote a book based on his experience, One-Room School. In 1945, the schoolhouse closed, and Pringle was sent to a central school in Honeoye Falls, a village of approximately two thousand. This school, the author recalled in SAAS, "had a library … that fed my hunger for books. As I edged toward adolescence, books became increasingly important. Whether fiction or nonfiction, they allowed me to escape from an often unhappy reality."
Pringle spent many hours out of doors, exploring, and one day he came upon a book at home that, as he later recalled, inspired in him "a deeper interest in the natural world. One May day I noticed some little birds flitting among the half-formed leaves of an elm. Their colors were so striking: I wondered what they were. We didn't have many books, but did have one introductory guide to birds, and in it were the species of warblers I had seen. I was hooked."
Pringle began to focus on birds, attracting and identifying them and finding their nests; later, he began building birdhouses and subscribing to Audubon magazine, which he has credited with sparking his interest in wild-life photography. At age twelve Pringle received his first camera, and "did the best I could photographing bird nests and wildflowers." About the same time, he was given his first rifle, a .22 caliber gun, "a routine step in that place and time, when virtually all boys (and a good many girls) were encouraged to become hunters." After shooting his first squirrel, Pringle experienced mixed feelings, "including regret as I watched life fade from his eyes." However, successful hunting earned respect and, as the author acknowledged in SAAS, "I was hungry to succeed at something." Pringle began hunting, trapping, and fishing, sometimes with his father and brother. At age fifteen he began keeping a nature journal; in later reviewing his notes, Pringle noted in SAAS, "I was already moving beyond the basic 'what species is that?' level of interest to 'why' and 'how' questions about nature."
In 1951 Pringle and his family moved to a new home in Rush, New York. There, as the author wrote in SAAS, "I put hundreds of hours into habitat improvement on our five acres of land, actually digging a small pond with an earthen dam, building birdhouses and bird feeders, transplanting shrubs and wildflowers." As a teen, Pringle enjoyed reading and baseball as well as activities connected with nature. In 1952, he submitted an article to the "True Experiences and Camping Trips" section of Open Road magazine, a periodical similar to Boys' Life. The article described Pringle's observations of crow behavior; later, the author—who was paid five dollars by Open Road for his contribution—wrote in SAAS, "I learned that my explanation was dead wrong." He also provided details about this incident and his first published writing in his book Crows! Strange and Wonderful.
After graduating from high school, Pringle worked for a year in the kitchen of the county hospital while continuing to hunt, trap, study birds, and follow baseball. In 1954 he enrolled at Cornell University, majoring in wildlife conservation. At Cornell, Pringle's interest in nature was nurtured by his classes and by vacations with friends. For example, he spent winter holidays in the Adirondack Mountains following the trails of fishers—fox-sized members of the weasel family—and other wildlife; in 1973, he published Follow a Fisher, a work that shows how following a fisher's tracks leads to information about its hunting, eating, mating, and mothering habits. At Cornell he also took two courses on writing nonfiction for magazines and won a campus photography contest with a nature photo he had taken; shortly after graduation, Pringle had an article published in The Conservationist, a magazine published by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. The author wrote in SAAS, "Having a byline with an article and credit lines with photographs felt so good; I began to aim for national outdoor magazines."
In 1958 Pringle began a master's degree program at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. While his research on cottontails earned him a degree, he continued to pursue his interest in mammalian predators. While trapping, tagging, and releasing bobcats, Pringle captured and identified some of the first coyotes snared in Massachusetts. In 1977, the author published The Controversial Coyote: Predation, Politics, and Ecology, which attempts to separate fact from fiction regarding coyotes and other predators. Pringle enrolled at Syracuse University intending to earn his Ph.D. in wildlife biology; however, after having several more articles and photographs published, he "reached a turning point and made a choice I have never regretted—by early 1961 I had given up on the doctorate and was enrolled in journalism."
Shortly after entering the Syracuse School of Journalism, Pringle contracted hepatitis. After recovering at home, he began teaching science at Lima Central School in Lima, New York, where he was "the entire science department …, teaching physics, biology, general science, plus a half-year of science for the seventh and eighth grades." In 1962, he took an education class at Syracuse as well as courses in photography and journalism. In 1963 he was hired as an assistant editor of the fledgling children's magazine Nature and Science, published by the American Museum of Natural History. He moved to senior editor and then executive editor before the magazine's demise in 1970. Even before this, in 1965, a fellow editor suggested to Pringle that he begin writing works for the young. Now he decided to follow this advice and, submitting articles to periodicals using the pseudonym Sean Heaney, began his career as a children's writer.
In 1968, Pringle published his first book, Dinosaurs and Their World. A basic treatment of selected dinosaurs, their evolution, and how paleontologists learn about them, Dinosaurs and Their World was praised by a reviewer in Science Books: "There are in print a great many dinosaur books for children, but this is one of the best because it is a well-researched and carefully written narrative.… Irrespective of how many dinosaur books elementary and public libraries own, they need this one." Writing in SAAS, Pringle noted that this book "in both hardcover and paperback editions sold more than 70,000 copies and stayed in print long after some of my later titles had expired." Pringle followed Dinosaurs and Their World with The Only Earth We Have, a work that outlines the dangers to the planet from pollution, solid wastes, pesticides, and the disruption of animal and plant communities. A critic in Kirkus Reviews praised the book for including, "In summary form, what every conservationist would like every child to absorb." Pringle's book "is as good a way to get young or older people to react as any we have," the critic added. Pringle also explored the issue of human population growth in One Earth, Many People, a work a Kirkus Reviews critic assigned as "required reading for the generation that stands to inherit the earth and its problems." A reviewer in Science Books added: "Rarely does a book present so completely in so little space the basic components of population dynamics."
In 1970 Pringle became a freelance writer and during the remainder of the 1970s continued to publish well-received titles on nature and ecological subjects. In 1976 Listen to the Crows became the first of several of the author's works to be named a notable book by the American Library Association. Through his explanation of the various forms of crow communication, Pringle demonstrates that the oft-maligned crow is actually one of the most intelligent of birds. A critic in Kirkus Reviews commented that the author's "appreciation for the common but redoubtable crow avoids generalities and focuses on the amazing versatility of the bird's voice box." Shortly afterward, Pringle published Death Is Natural. This work, which explains how death in the plant and animal worlds is a necessary part of nature's recycling process, was called a "remarkable book for children as well as some adults!" by Gregory R. Belcher of Appraisal. In 1978 Pringle also earned a special conservation award from the National Wildlife Federation for being "the nation's leading writer of books on biological and environmental issues for young people."
In 1979, Pringle published two titles that were considered somewhat controversial: Natural Fire: Its Ecology in Forests and Nuclear Power: From Physics to Politics. In Natural Fire the author explains that since forest fires are a natural force in the environment, we may be wrong to prevent fires and to put them out when they begin. Writing in Horn Book, Harry C. Stubbs concluded that Pringle "makes a very good case, and the book deserves to be read carefully and thoughtfully." R. Gregory Belcher noted in Appraisal that Natural Fire is a "provocative introduction" to the study of the role of fire within an ecological system. In Nuclear Power the author presents an overview of the controversy surrounding his subject; although he admits to an anti-nuclear bias, he presents cases both for and against nuclear power in what David G. Hoag, in a review for Appraisal, called "unemotional language." The critic concluded, "If one feels that a children's science book may or should intermix science with politics, then this book ranks high." Writing in School Library Journal, Robert Unsworth commented that the author is "clear-headed, crisp, and always informative.… Pringle seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to knowing when enough information is enough."
In the early 1980s Pringle wrote books about such subjects as vampire bats, water, plants, radiation, and scientific misconceptions. The decade also saw Pringle continue his exploration of controversial issues; for example, he wrote two books on nuclear power, Nuclear War: From Hiroshima to Nuclear Winter and Nuclear Energy: Troubled Past, Uncertain Future, as well as a work on the composition and effects of acid rain—Rain of Troubles: The Science and Politics of Acid Rain—and a book on the animal rights issue titled The Animal Rights Controversy. Reviewers have consistently praised the author's objective overviews: for example, in his review of Nuclear Energy for School Library Journal, Alan Newman claimed that Pringle "gives an exceptionally knowledgeable and thoughtful treatment of a difficult subject" and called the work a "savvy, well-written book on a subject often confused by hysteria and misinformation."
Pringle also created books that espouse the preservation of the earth, such as What Shall We Do with the Land? and Restoring Our Earth. In her review of the former title for Booklist, Denise M. Wilms commented that Pringle's "environmentalist bent is quietly apparent throughout" and that his thought-provoking work is "a first-rate starting point for background on a topic that will be increasingly in the news." Julia Rholes concluded in School Library Journal that the land-use questions are important and that "this thoughtful, well-written book should be a must" wherever "the rights of society as a whole versus individual rights" is seriously discussed.
During the 1980s Pringle also began writing biographies of prominent scientists who work with animals, a series that provides information about both the figures being profiled and the animals they study. In her review of Batman: Exploring the World of Bats, the story of mammalogist photographer Merlin Tuttle, Karey Wehner noted in School Library Journal that the book "offers a unique perspective on these gentle mammals." Pringle outlines the life and work of Cynthia Moss, a scientist without formal training, in Elephant Woman: Cynthia Moss Explores the World of Elephants; writing in School Library Journal, Susan Oliver maintained that "Moss will fascinate young readers.… Elephants are extraordinary animals, Cynthia Moss is a great role model, and Pringle has brought them together in an exciting presentation." A critic in Kirkus Reviews called Elephant Woman "an inspirational book for those interested in animal-related vocations."
In the 1990s, Pringle created several books that highlight not only the damage being done to the earth but also the recuperative and preventative measures being taken on the planet's behalf. In Living Treasure: Saving Earth's Threatened Biodiversity he discusses how millions of species are being destroyed, as well as how the damage can be stopped. Writing in Children's Literature Association Quarterly, Mary Harris Veeder noted that because Pringle "can move beyond the notion of the rain forest as a pretty place, … his readers can begin to understand exactly why the destruction of the rain forest makes no sense."
Dinosaurs! Strange and Wonderful launched a series of informational picture books for preschoolers and early primary graders. An introduction to the popular creatures that explains basic facts about them as well as recent discoveries of paleontologists, the book "lives up to its subtitle," according to Sally Erhard, who added in Appraisal that Pringle's text "is full of just the right amount of information about dinosaurs for the preschool level." Among the most highly praised of Pringle's books in this genre is An Extraordinary Life: The Story of a Monarch Butterfly. Recounting the life cycle of a female monarch—including her migration flight from New England to Mexico—the Orbis Pictus award-winning book was called "superb" and "well-researched" by a Kirkus Reviews critic who added that the volume "finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly."
In The Environmental Movement: From Its Roots to the Challenges of a New Century Pringle "offers an accessible, wide-ranging overview of environmentalism in the U.S." at the end of the twentieth century, according to Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg. The author "deftly incorporates a wide range of topics from the establishment of national parks to the threat of global warming," noted Kathy Piehl in School Library Journal, and he introduces some of the key figures in the environmental movement. A loyal and heroic canine is the focus of 2002's Dog of Discovery: A Newfoundland's Adventures with Lewis and Clark, which describes the explorations of the American west by Meriwether Lewis, William Clark, and the Corps of Discovery team from 1803 to 1806. Lewis and Clark were accompanied by a hunting and guide dog named Seaman, and the dog was mentioned frequently in the explorers' journals. "This is a richly detailed and historically accurate account of the expedition," wrote Janet Gillen in School Library Journal.
Come to the Ocean's Edge depicts a day in the life of the creatures who inhabit coastal areas, including gulls, mole crabs, and bluefish. Reviewing Come to the Ocean's Edge in School Library Journal, Joy Fleishhacker praised the "poetic text" and "descriptive language" that fills the work. Focusing on the life surrounding more inland waters, Pringle follows a winged insect from its birth in a New York swamp to its death in a Florida pond in A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly. "Rarely do books of this nature delve so deeply into one species," observed a Horn Book reviewer. A Dragon in the Sky is an "exemplary nature-study book—accurate, explicit, and satisfyingly complete," according to School Library Journal reviewer Ellen Heath.
The author's "Strange and Wonderful" series examines the behavior, anatomy, feeding habits, methods of communication, and other characteristics of several creatures. In Booklist, Hazel Rochman praised the "informal, fact-filled narrative" of Crows! Strange and Wonderful, while School Library Journal critic Patricia Manning dubbed Sharks! Strange and Wonderful an "eye-catching, edifying work." Reviewing Whales! Strange and Wonderful for Booklist, Carolyn Phelan stated that Pringle offers a "surprising amount of information in an interesting manner." Strange Animals, New to Science provides descriptions of seventeen new species of animals, including a Vietnamese rhinoceros and a Tibetan horse. According to Booklist contributor Carolyn Phelan, Strange Animals, New to Science is an "informative book on an unusual topic that will open kids' minds," and School Library Journal reviewer Nancy Call remarked that "Pringle brings insight into the struggles and triumphs" of the scientists who search for new or extinct species.
In addition to his nonfiction titles, Pringle has created several picture books for younger children. Jesse Builds a Road was inspired by the author's son; it introduces readers to a small boy who, while playing with his trucks and bulldozers, imagines he is driving the real machines. Writing in School Library Journal, Judith Gloyer noted that Pringle's technique of the "weaving in and out of the imagination and reality is engaging," and readers will be loath to be "pulled back to reality." Naming the Cat is also based on a family experience: trying to name the stray cat that has entered their lives; several close calls make it apparent that the cat should be dubbed Lucky. Writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, Janice M. Del Negro called Naming the Cat a "light but engaging tale" that is "certain to have listeners bursting to tell the stories of how they named their own family pets."
Octopus Hug depicts two spirited youngsters, Jesse and Becky, who spend an evening playing with their father. Dad gives them an octopus hug, becomes a tree for climbing, and leads them in an evening of physical play. The book is a celebration of roughhousing, and Pringle notes that every activity was "living-room tested" with his own five children. A critic for Publishers Weekly commented that "The imaginative antics that tumble across these pages could constitute a manual for bored baby-sitters." In Bear Hug, a companion volume to Octopus Hug, Jesse and Becky go camping with their dad, and they spend the day hiking and exploring the woods. After a successful first overnight camping trip, Jesse expresses regret at not seeing a bear, whereupon the father gathers the children in his arms for a huge bear hug. School Library Journal contributor Linda L. Walkins called Bear Hug "an atmospheric story that portrays the excitement of a family outing."
Pringle is also the author of two books relating his own life experiences: Nature! Wild and Wonderful, in which he presents interesting experiences from his life to readers in the early primary grades, and One-Room School, an informational picture book that recalls the year 1945, the final year of operation of Pringle's one-room schoolhouse. In a review of Nature!, Marlene Gawron of School Library Journal commented that the writer's autobiography "will entertain and inspire young readers," while Evelyn Butrico, writing about One-Room School in the same periodical, concluded that it is "a gentle story" for younger children and a "good curriculum aid" for those studying "American history, the history of schools, or life in another era."
In evaluating his own body of work, Pringle wrote in SAAS: "My approach to writing a book is like that of a teacher planning to present a subject to students—not 'how many facts, dates, and definitions can I jam into their heads?' but 'what are the key ideas and how can I spark some enthusiasm about them?' As my knowledge of ecology has grown, so has my appreciation of diversity, complexity, and the interdependence of living and nonliving things. My books tend to encourage readers to feel a kinship with other living things, and a sense of membership in the earth's ecosystem. I have also become an advocate of scientific thinking, or perhaps I should say just clear thinking. Challenging authority and accepted truths is a basic part of the scientific process. It has influenced my choice of book subjects, as I have questioned popular but incorrect notions about forest fires, dinosaurs, vampire bats, wolves, coyotes, and killer bees. These books give readers the truth, to the extent we know it, and also demonstrate that the explorations of science aim at a better understanding of the world. As long as we keep exploring, that understanding can change."
In his essay "Science Done Here" in Celebrating Children's Books: Essays on Children's Literature in Honor of Zena Sutherland, Pringle wrote: "The doing of science depends on such special human qualities as curiosity, passion, creativity, and veracity. Partly because of these characteristics, science has been called the greatest hope of the human race. Children's books have a vital role to play. They can make science and the universe more accessible to young people. They can stand for and appeal to the finest characteristics and highest aspirations of the human species."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Arbuthnot, May Hill, Dianne L. Monson, and Zena Sutherland, Children and Books, 6th edition, Scott, Foresman (Chicago, IL), 1981, pp. 456-457.
Celebrating Children's Books: Essays on Children's Literature in Honor of Zena Sutherland, edited by Betsy Hearne and Marilyn Kaye, Lothrop, Lee & Shepard (New York, NY), 1981, pp. 108-115.
Children's Books and Their Creators, Houghton (Boston, MA), 1995.
Children's Literature Review, Volume 4, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1984, pp. 172-186.
Nonfiction for Young Adults: From Delight to Wisdom, Oryx Press (Phoenix, AZ), 1990, pp. 71-80.
St. James Guide to Children's Writers, 5th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Something about the Author Autobiography Series, Volume 6, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
Voice of the Narrator in Children's Literature, The, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1989, pp. 371-372, 377-382.
Appraisal, winter, 1978, Gregory R. Belcher, review of Death Is Natural, pp. 39-40; winter, 1981, Gregory R. Belcher, review of Natural Fire, winter, 1981, p. 52; fall, 1980, David G. Hoag, review of Nuclear Power, p. 54; winter, 1995, pp. 55-56; winter, 1996, pp. 48-49.
Booklist, October 1, 1981, Denise M. Wilms, review of What Shall We Do with the Land?, p. 239; November 15, 1992, p. 588; July, 1993, p. 1955; September 15, 1993, p. 148; November 1, 1993, p. 520; January 15, 1995, p. 922; March 15, 1995, p. 1332; January 1, 1996, p. 812; December 1, 1996, p. 660; February 1, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Taste and Hearing, p. 1021; March 15, 2000, Carolyn Phelan, review of Bats! Strange and Wonderful, p. 1373; April 1, 2000, Gillian Engberg, review of The Environmental Movement: From Its Roots to the Challenges of a New Century, p. 1459; April 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Global Warming: The Threat of Earth's Changing Climate, p. 1462; April 15, 2001, Carolyn Phelan, review of Sharks! Strange and Wonderful, p. 1548; July, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of Strange Animals, New to Science, p. 1841; November 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Crows! Strange and Wonderful, pp. 500-501; December 1, 2002, Carolyn Phelan, review of The Dog of Discovery: A Newfoundland's Adventures with Lewis and Clark, p. 666; March 15, 2003, Carolyn Phelan, review of Whales! Strange and Wonderful, p. 1326; February 1, 2004, Carolyn Phelan, review of Come to the Ocean's Edge: A Nature Cycle Book, p. 978.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, May, 1997, Susan S. Verner, review of An Extraordinary Life, pp. 333-334; October, 1997, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Naming the Cat, p. 65.
Childhood Education, spring, 1993, p. 175; spring, 2003, Jovita Heist, review of Crows! Strange and Wonderful, p. 177, and Kristen Weimer, review of Dog of Discovery, p. 179.
Children's Literature Association Quarterly, winter, 1994-95, Mary Harris Veeder, "Children's Books on Rain Forests: Beyond the Macaw Mystique," pp. 165-169.
Christian Science Monitor, October 23, 1978, p. B4.
Conservationist, March-April, 1990, p. 52; November-December, 1990, p. 50.
Horn Book, October, 1977, p. 559; December, 1979, Harry C. Stubbs, review of Natural Fire, p. 688; September-October, 1989, pp. 641-642; March-April, 1990, p. 222; September-October, 1990, p. 620; November-December, 1995, p. 757; May-June, 1997, p. 344; January-February, 1998, p. 95; July, 2001, review of A Dragon in the Sky: The Story of a Green Darner Dragonfly, p. 475.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 1969, review of The Only Earth We Have, p. 1017; April 15, 1971, of One Earth, Many People, p. 448; October 1, 1976, review of Listen to the Crows, p. 1099; November 1, 1981, review of What Shall We Do with the Land?, p. 1350; February 15, 1997, review of An Extraordinary Life, p. 304; July 1, 1997, review of Naming the Cat, p. 1035; November 1, 1997, review of Elephant Woman, p. 1648; August 15, 2002, review of Crows! Strange and Wonderful, p. 1232; March 1, 2003, review of Whales! Strange and Wonderful, p. 396; August 15, 2004, review of Snakes! Strange and Wonderful, p. 811.
Language Arts, Richard M. Kerper, "Art Influencing Art," pp. 60-67.
New York Times Book Review, November 9, 1969; May 24, 1970; December 10, 1978, p. 78.
Publishers Weekly, October 4, 1993, p. 79; January 2, 1995, p. 77; September 16, 2002, "What's the 411?," pp. 70-71; February 24, 2003, "True Companions," p. 74.
School Library Journal, April, 1980, pp. 127-128; December, 1981, Julia Rholes, review of What Shall We Do with the Land?: Choices for America, p. 72; April, 1989, Alan Newman, review of Nuclear Energy, pp. 124-125; February, 1990, Judith Gloyer, review of Jesse Builds a Road, p. 78; July, 1991, p. 85; November, 1991, p. 132; September, 1992, p. 270; May, 1993, p. 134; August, 1993, p. 200; December, 1993, p. 130; January, 1994, p. 97; March, 1995, pp. 217-218; September, 1997, Marlene Gawron, review of Nature! Wild and Wonderful, p. 199; December, 1997, Susan Oliver, review of Elephant Woman, pp. 145-146; April, 1998, Evelyn Butrico, review of One-Room School, pp. 123-124; March, 2000, Peg Glisson, review of Hearing, p. 261; June, 2000, Kathy Piehl, The Environmental Movement, p. 170; June, 2000, Karey Wehner, review of Bats! Strange and Wonderful, p. 135; June, 2001, Anne Chapman Callaghan, review of Global Warming, p. 178; August, 2001, Patricia Manning, review of Sharks! Strange and Wonderful, and Ellen Heath, review of A Dragon in the Sky, p. 172; August, 2002, Nancy Call, review of Strange Animals, New to Science, p. 216; September, 2002, Cynthia M. Sturgis, review of Crows! Strange and Wonderful, p. 217, and Janet Gillen, review of Dog of Discovery, p. 231; February, 2003, Linda L. Walkins, review of Bear Hug, p. 120; April, 2003, Patricia Manning, review of Whales! Strange and Wonderful, p. 154; August, 2003, Kathy Piehl, review of The Environmental Movement, pp. 116-117; October, 2003, Joy Fleishhacker, review of Come to the Ocean's Edge, p. 156.
Science Books, September, 1968, review of Dinosaurs and Their World, p. 114; September, 1971, review of One Earth, Many People, p. 144.
Scientific American, December, 1975; December, 1991, p. 150; December, 1993, p. 135.
Teaching K-8, April, 2003, Becky Rodia, "The Call of the Wild," pp. 42-44.
Times Literary Supplement, March 28, 1980.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 14, 1991; January 12, 1992, p. 6.
Voice of Youth Advocates, April, 1997, Mary B. McCarthy, review of Smoking, p. 60.
Washington Post Book World, May 17, 1972, p. 12; November 13, 1977; December 6, 1992, p. 18.
Wilson Library Bulletin, January, 1991, p. 109; November, 1991, pp. 95-96.
Authors and Illustrators Who Visit Schools, http://www.authorsillustrators.com/ (September 19, 2004).
Boyds Mills Press Web site, http://www.boydsmillspress.com/ (September 19, 2004).
Children's Literature Web site, http://www.childrenslit.com/ (September 19, 2004), "Laurence Pringle."
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