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.
Q & A with L.E. Carmichael
Thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Let’s pretend we are domesticated foxes and we are meeting for the first time. What behaviors would we exhibit and what would the Fox REALLY say at a first encounter?
Describe the most fascinating day you’ve experienced as a scientist.
Getting to watch and photograph domestic foxes for Fox Talk! I’d been reading about them for 13 years and it was such a thrill to be in their presence, both because they are so dog-like and yet oddly cat-like at the same time – foxes are not like any other animal.
Part of it, too, was that I did my entire PhD using tissue samples from wolves and foxes that had been legally harvested. Six years of study, and I never actually got to see my animals alive in the wild, doing what they do. I always regretted that, so working on this book was a gift in more ways than one.
Curious to know if you have any pets and if you do, do you keep a journal of their behavior?
I grew up with dogs, but now have two cats. They’re a better fit for my writing lifestyle – instead of distracting me with requests for walks, they sit on my lap and prevent me from getting out of my chair when I’m supposed to be working! I don’t keep a journal, but like most proud parents I love to observe them and will tell people stories about them with only the smallest encouragement. 🙂
What animal’s behavior do you find the most fascinating and why?
Whichever one I’m looking at. Animals do some truly incredible things, and I’m always amazed by them. Think of crows who can solve problems and build their own tools, or butterflies that avoid predation by pretending to be owls, or those marine iguanas in the Galapagos – did you know they drink ocean water and expel the extra salt by spitting it out their noses?
What advice do you have for a young person considering a career in science?
Be curious. Ask questions and learn everything you can about any topic you’re interested in – you never know when things that don’t seem to be related will suddenly connect.
And recognize that science is not like it is on TV. In the real world, theres a lot less about “Eureka” and a lot more persistence and repetitive, careful, sometimes frustrating work. It’s not glamorous, but when you make a discovery – when you create knowledge about the world we never had before – that’s an amazing and rewarding thing.
Never lose your sense of wonder.
What are your thoughts on the possibility of Bigfoots or Loch Ness Monsters existing?
How awesome would that be?? I have to say, though, the evidence in their favour is pretty scant. Big animals have big needs (habitat, food etc.) and the effects of those needs are hard to overlook. In recent years, labs have also tested DNA from hairs associated with credible sightings of Bigfoot and Yeti, and they came up bison and horse, which is another bad sign.
But the thing about science is that we can never prove with 100% certainty that something doesn’t exist – there’s always the chance that new evidence will come to light!
Tell us a random fact (not science related) about yourself. Go on, we want to be shocked and amazed!
What is your next project?
Sounds like a great book for kids interested in science, Lindsey!
Lindsey fills in the blanks(in red):
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 the rafflecopter HERE.
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.