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RE: emu history

At 08:27 AM 1/14/2004, Nancy Cavanaugh wrote:

Unfortunately, in my neck of northern NJ there is very little to no
books about emu, ratites, etc. I suppose I could head into NYC and see
if their library has something but being a single mom with a full-time
job makes doing something like that a bit more difficult. Not
impossible, just more difficult.

I can certainly understand this. However, given that this is the situation I would still strongly recommend that you check out the books I mentioned to you. The best place to do this in New York City would certainly be the Museum Library at the American Museum of Natural History; certainly the Department of Ornithology will have all the books that I mentioned, and you could have a chat with Joel at the same time! Obviously you have to arrange this in advance, but I think it would be very much worth your while. In a pinch you might see if they could photocopy the relevant pages for you and send them to you, though this might be quite a bit to ask.

You might look at http://www.birdsaustralia.com.au/actionplan/extinct.html, which leads you to brief technical accounts of the extinct emus of King and Kangaroo Islands.

I suppose I should clarify my book project. The book I am writing is
going to be for kids and articles, I hope, for places like the AEA who
seem to really be lacking in any information beyond how to farm the
birds. Getting this in-depth about them is just a personal thing I'm
interested in. I highly doubt most 8 year olds would be interested in
learning about the species to this level. I saw a discrepancy in the
dates and was curious about it so I started asking around and figured
this place would be one of the best places to go for possible answers.

I can understand this, and I am not trying to be difficult. However, I am the author of three children's books on science myself, and I have always found that I end up doing far more research than actually goes into the book. For my last book for children, a book about newly-discovered animal species, I spent almost two years gathering material and preparing the text, though the final result was only 64 pages long, including pictures. I read a great number of original scientific papers, and contacted as many of the original discoverers of the species as I could to ask questions and to have them look at what I had written. I am not trying to pat myself on the back about this; I simply do not think I could have turned out a book that I would've been willing to put my name to had I done less. You are in an easier position, as most of the material you need has probably already been gathered into books rather than ending up in scattered scientific papers and articles.

Children, even the youngest children, have the right to accurate information (obviously presented at a level they can understand), and to provide that I have to do enough in-depth research for my own edification to be able to be sure that what I eventually write is not only factually correct, but that I have learned enough to put that material into the proper context, and interpret it in the right way. The trouble with material on the Internet is that anyone can put anything they like out there, whether they know what they are talking about or not. In science, there is really no substitute for going to the primary literature, or at least to widely-accepted monographs that cite for references, even if the information you get out of them is far too complicated to be presented to children in an undigested lump.

Ronald I. Orenstein Phone: (905) 820-7886
International Wildlife Coalition Fax/Modem: (905) 569-0116
1825 Shady Creek Court
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5L 3W2 mailto:ornstn@rogers.com