I grew up in the deep countryside, surrounded by pure, untouched nature, insects and animals of all kinds. Whilst they were part of my everyday life, I would not describe myself as an animal lover per se. Yet I bought this book, an unlikely choice for me, after seeing Hugh Warwick speak at the Bristol Festival of Nature this summer. There is something profoundly engaging about the man, and his infectious passion and exuberance are more than conveyed in the book. There are enough personal details - relating to the author, the ambassadors and the animals themselves - for the reader to feel included from the start, involved, invited along for the ride. It is a joy to read, informative without being patronising, and really quite poetic at times. It's full of interesting wildlife anecdotes and humour.
Looking through the table of contents, I have to admit that I was biased as to which animals I'd enjoy reading about, and which would leave me indifferent. However, as Warwick and his ambassadors shattered my preconceptions one by one, I discovered affinities that I never would have imagined.
But behind the congenial tone and (mostly-) cute animal profiles lies a powerful environmental message, which is that if we open up to these creatures, if we let them seduce us then nature will become less anonymous and we will feel compelled to fight for it's preservation - for the sake of the creatures, and our own.
If you're looking for a high-spirited, multifaceted book which will engage, entertain and inform you, then this is the one!