About the Book
Title: Fox Talk
Author: L.E. Carmichael, PhD
Book Designer: Michael Penman
Illustrator: Jody Bronson
Photography: Brian Dust
Publication Date: August 8, 2013
Publisher: Ashby-BP Publishing
Recommended Age: 8+
When you talk to a dog, does the dog talk back? Many people think so. But for a long time, scientists didn’t know how our furry friends learned to communicate with people. Luckily, Russian scientist Dmitri Belyaev had a plan. If he could tame wild red foxes, he could learn how dogs first came from wolves. By studying the way these foxes changed during domestication, the mystery of communication would be solved at a last. More than 50 years after the experiment began, Belyaev’s foxes have become so tame, you can have one as a pet! Packed with eye-popping photos and first-hand research, FOX TALK reveals the story of these amazing animals… and everything they’ve taught us about wolves, dogs, and communication.
Did you know wolves, dogs and foxes were all part of the canine family? I didn’t. Actually, I have never really thought about it. I knew that dogs and wolves were related, but never thought about foxes. Actually, their ancestor, The Eastern Wolf lived about 15,000 years ago. Dogs became dogs because they began to interact with people – and began to develop different physical traits. Wolves stayed wild and foxes – well – we read the book to see how scientists use foxes to study physical traits, behavioral traits and domestication.
We loved this book for several reasons. We opted for the interactive book, in which short videos are embedded within the ebook itself. As you are reading the text, you press the play button, and you can see the foxes. It’s a beautiful way to teach children concepts. The interactive nature of this book gave us a lot of insight into the traits and behaviors that were explained in the book. Second, the language was clear. Several experiments were explained, and the author did a fantastic job at explaining very complex subjects in a language that children ages 8-12 could easily understand. If there were any questions, further research could be done. The content was very interesting. In the beginning, my 9-year-old was complaining about 62 pages. By the end, he was begging for more. Each page brought new, relevant and interesting facts.
Even though this book was written for children ages 8+, both of my kids participate in listening to the book. While my 5-year-old didn’t understand many of the concepts, she really enjoyed looking at the pictures and embedded videos. One thing that homeschooling multiple children has taught me, is that the youngers pick up and learn from the studies of the older kids. While they don’t understand every single detail, some things stick. So, when they hear it again, they can further build upon their knowledge.
This is a very powerful tool, and a fantastic (in my opinion) STEM activity for your children. Here is science at it’s finest – written for young children in clear English so that they understand. They understand the rationale for the experiments and can begin to draw their own conclusions. This is a fantastic science project/study for homeschoolers.
I loved that she put in additional books and videos for additional study. Very nice! We went to the library and looked (but didn’t check-out) some of the books.
I created a few activities for my kids
Since Ava didn’t have full understanding of the book, and she is just learning how to read, I created some simple literacy and math exercises surrounding foxes. You can download the Fox Talk Activities for Preschool and Kindergarten.
For the older ones, I developed a series of questions stemming from the book. Depending on your child, you can use these questions as discussion, writing exercises or both. My 9-year-old always needs to work on his handwriting and sentence structure, so I make him sit down and write out the questions in cursive. The questions are written in cursive or print, depending upon what your child is working on. You can download the Fox Talk Worksheet for Grade 3-5 here.
Some Remaining Questions.
1. I’m particularly interested in the changes in DNA due to domestication. Since the studies were done so early, PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) wasn’t known (invented in 1983 by Kary Mullis). I’m wondering if any DNA specific studies were done recently – to measure the exact changes in fox DNA due to domestication.
Perhaps PCR is old school now (have been out of science for several years). Perhaps there is a new method for DNA isolation and sequencing? I would love to know more details about this.
2. In the end, the author talks about buying a domesticated fox. I found it interesting that people would have a fox for a pet. I guess I have never thought about the possibility. My kids just looked at me in amazement. It really opened our eyes, but left me with the question – why would you want a fox for a pet? Why just not buy a dog?
What do you think? What would be the advantage to buying a fox? All kind of special considerations have to be met. Any ideas?
Early Buzz About the Book
“Fox Talk is an educational non-fiction title exploring the domestication of dogs by studying fox behaviour and communication. The information is presented with beautiful photographs, illustrations, bubbles/boxes of brief information, and descriptions of the research findings using age-appropriate language. I think this would be an excellent resource in elementary schools or for homeschoolers in particular and I highly recommend it.” ~ 5-Star Review, Mother Daughter Book Reviews
About The Author: L.E. Carmichael
Lindsey Carmichael never outgrew that stage of childhood when nothing’s more fun than amazing your friends (and correcting your teachers!) with your stockpile of weird and wonderful facts. Her sense of wonder came in handy during her career as a scientist, and in 2006, she received the Governor General’s Medal for her PhD thesis, Ecological Genetics of Northern Wolves and Arctic Foxes. Lindsey finds talking about science more fun than doing it, however, and now writes for kids, teens, and occasionally adults (a sense of wonder is essential for this, too). Lindsey publishes under the name L E Carmichael, and her work has appeared in Dig, Highlights for Children, Kiki, and Canadian Tales of the Fantastic. Her published science books cover everything from animal migration to hybrid cars. When not digging up obscure or wacky details for her next nonfiction project, Lindsey’s probably working on her young adult fantasy novel.
Fox Talk Blog Tour Schedule (2014)
* Blog Tour Giveaway *
Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card (or PayPal cash) + a Skype visit to a school or library of the winner’s choice ($250 value).
Contest runs: January 27th to February 21, 11:59 pm, 2014
How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.
Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by the publisher, Ashby-BP Publishing and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.