Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 60.djvu/99

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SCIENTIFIC LITERATURE.

the most interesting popular books on natural history in recent years have exhibited a very intimate knowledge of the forms considered. There is a charm in familiar friendship that is far more satisfactory than casual acquaintance, and it is a matter of small importance what the forms are—whether birds or bees or some group of plants.

One can hardly ask for a better piece of book work than 'Flowers and Ferns in their Haunts' by Mabel Osgood Wright (Macmillan). The charm lies in the beautiful photographic reproductions. These exhibit the details of flowers or ferns in the foreground against rock and in other picturesque situations with a sharpness that is very remarkable and in most delicate contrast to the soft backgrounds. With this detail is a choice of subjects in their surroundings that shows great feeling for the appropriate and artistic. The text is a running account of walks and rides in woods and over hill and dale in varying seasons of the year. The descriptions, chiefly of flower societies, are quite free from technicalities. The point of view is always imaginative and human rather than scientific. The book can scarcely be said to be botanical, except that flowers form the subject of a pleasing account of nature in her varying moods always treated figuratively and with much personification. Two human characters beside the author are carried through the book, one a quaint and interesting old man, the other a conventionally educated young woman, whose presence except as a foil seems somewhat out of place in these pages.