All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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A video interview with

Sy Montgomery

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Sy Montgomery is a lifelong explorer: she has made four trips to Peru and Brazil to study the pink dolphins of the Amazon; and on other expeditions, she was chased by an angry silverback gorilla in Zaire; bitten by a vampire bat in Costa Rica; undressed by an orangutan in Borneo; and hunted by a tiger in India. She also worked in a pit crawling with eighteen thousand snakes in Manitoba; handled a wild tarantula in French Guiana; and swam with piranhas, electric eels, and dolphins in the Amazon.

She has collaborated for years with photographer Nic Bishop, and together they launched Houghton Mifflin's award-winning "Scientists in the Field" series with The Snake Scientist, published in 1999. This series takes young reader into the fascinating world of scientists whose 'laboratories' are in the wild, often in some of the most remote corners of the world.

Sy has written more than 15 books for both adults and children. The Good, Good Pig, a moving memoir of life with her remarkable pig, Christopher Hogwood, is an international bestseller. Her book for children, Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea was the recipient of the 2007 Orbis Pictus Award and was selected as an Honor book for the ALA Sibert Award. In April 2010, she was awarded the Children's Book Guild of Washington, D.C.'s Nonfiction Award for her distinguished body of work.

She is a 1979 graduate of Syracuse University, with degrees in journalism, French, and psychology. She lives in Hancock New Hampshire with her husband, and of course, lots of animal friends.

Selected Books

from Sy Montgomery

Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon

Age Level: 9-12

The author joins several field scientists to find the mysterious encantado, the pink dolphins of the Amazon said to seduce people to an enchanted city underwater. An informal narration draws readers into the rainforest travelogue to introduce amazing animals, environmental issues, and more. Full color photographs add rich detail. Montgomery's experiences are also detailed for adults in Journey of the Pink Dolphins: An Amazon Quest.

Buy Encantado: Pink Dolphin of the Amazon

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot

Age Level: 9-12

After five years, the call came allowing the author/photographer team to travel to an island off the coast of New Zealand to study highly endangered, rare, flightless parrots. There they meet volunteers who stay to help the animals and describe an accidental encounter with a kakapo in the wild in a breathtaking telling and arresting photographs.

Buy Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot

The Snake Scientist

Age Level: 9-12

Dr. Robert Mason studies an annual spring phenomenon on a wildlife area in Manitoba, Canada. There after wintering underground, harmless red-sided garter snakes emerge by the thousands — more snakes to be seen at one time than any place else in the world — captured in remarkable photographs and an effusive, informative text.

Buy The Snake Scientist

The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans

Age Level: 9-12

Why tigers that live on the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (on the Bay of Bengal) feast regularly on men (preferred over females) is a mystery studied by scientists and the subject of much local lore. And it makes riveting reading as it unfolds in the capable hands of this author. The region and its unusual treasures are further explored in a book for adults (and young adults), Spell of the Tiger: The Man-Eaters of Sundarbans.

Buy The Man-Eating Tigers of Sundarbans

The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea

Age Level: 9-12

The author/photographer team joins biologist Lisa Dabek and other scientists and volunteers including people from Papua New Guinea as they endure an inhospitable environment to study the reclusive Matschie's tree kangaroo. The wonder of this 10,000 foot high forest and its inhabitants is presented in enthralling text and amazing photos.

Buy The Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia

Age Level: 9-12

Join the conservation director of the Snow Leopard Trust, Tom McCarthy, on a journey high to a hostile (at least for humans) place in Central Asia — so cold that tears freeze. The elusive cat is camouflaged well, but is revealed in this riveting chronicle through luminous photographs and an informative, evocative, and surprisingly taut text.

Buy Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia

The Tarantula Scientist

Age Level: 9-12

Warning to all readers who suffer from arachnophobia: this riveting book is filled with close-up, full color, remarkable photographs of hairy, large, and fascinating tarantulas found by scientist Sam Marshall. An informal text combines spider fact and fiction as it records the science field trip to the rainforest of French Guiana, providing a memorable journey for readers.

Buy The Tarantula Scientist


Age Level: Teen

Respect for all species and a long-term fascination with birds in particular come together in this richly revealed look at a range of birds. From ubiquitous pigeons and chickens to the living ancestor of dinosaurs, the author's insight and appreciation are both inspiring and contagious, all presented in an informal, accessible style.

Buy Birdology

A Good Good Pig

Age Level: Teen

The addition of a runt pig to their New Hampshire farm — as a pet, not for the plate — allowed the author to observe close-up how affection (even inter-species) builds community and friendship. Personal recollections of family, how Christopher Hogwood (the pig named after the British conductor) helped develop camaraderie is combined with animal fact in this engrossing memoir.

Buy A Good Good Pig