My Wild Life: Adventures of a Wildlife Photographer – written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas

 My Wild Life: Adventures of a Wildlife Photographer – written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas, Owlkids Books, 9781771474078, 2020 

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5+

Format: Hardcover

Genre: Memoir, career exploration, adventure, animal stories!

What did you like about the book?  Wow! We need more books like this. Eszterhas may be known to you already from her book Moto and Me about her year as a rescue mom for a serval cat. Here she pulls back a bit to explore her life as a wildlife photographer with all its joys and hardships. She opens with some autobiographical notes about her childhood fascination with animals and then moves easily into practicalities of her unusual life: the endless travel, the hardships of camplife, the hours spent waiting in absolute stillness to get the perfect shot. She also talks about the ethics and activism involved in her vocation. For example, she’s had to work to keep her hands to herself, despite the allure of contact with animals; this keeps her safe and the animals from experiencing stress. Eszterhas acknowledges the important work that scientists and indigenous people undertake on behalf of wildlife and the privilege she feels in being able to document their efforts. We even get some practical and gross details, like what kinds of cameras she uses and how she has to pee in a bottle during shoots so as not to scare animals with movement or scent! All the text is nicely spaced, with subheadings in a readable large font, and snakes logically around the images. The book closes with a brief interview with the author and some practical advice for getting started in wildlife photography.

The photos in the book are gorgeous! We get to see Eszterhas at work (as recorded by other photographers) but also her own images of cheetahs, bears, meerkats, and whales, among countless others. No matter what animal a young reader is into, they’ll find cool pictures here. 

Anything you didn’t like about it? My only complaint is that she doesn’t directly address how wildlife photography can be an actual job. How does she get paid for her work? A child who’s considering this option for their future could learn a lot from this book about what to expect; they should also know how Eszterhas was able to monetize her efforts!

To whom would you recommend this book?  Any reader from grade school to middle school who’s interested in animals would enjoy this book. If students are asked to research a future vocation, this is one of the few books I’ve read for upper elementary or middle school students that really looks at the nitty-gritty of an unusual but highly appealing career choice.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle school, public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 770.92

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes!

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: February 7, 2021

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Adventure, Animals, Careers, Memoir, Photography, Suzi Eszterhas and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.