It may be just the first week in November, but it's never too early to think about gift books.
Across the Ravaged Land by photographer Nick Brandt (Abrams, $65) is the final volume in his trilogy (On This Earth; A Shadow Falls) documenting the disappearing natural world of East Africa. It's majestic in both size and scope, and dismaying--10% of African elephants are slaughtered every year. A photo of elephants walking through grass is echoed in another by a line of rangers holding tusks of killed elephants. Mighty lions are juxtaposed with calcified bats and a snake twined on a branch.
Out of the Wild: Zoo Portraits (Glitterati, $60) is Boza Ivanovicis's self-described reimagining of zoo animals around the globe, in stunning black-and-white images. Some animals are lit so only an outline is seen--a mere hint of a black rhino or an okapi; others, like a pensive lemur, are more detailed. All distill the essence of the beast while insinuating their captivity.
Barron's has published two striking books by Tamsin Pickerel and photographer Astrid Harrisson: The Majesty of the Horse and The Spirit of the Dog. Finally, it has come out with The Elegance of the Cat ($35), and elegant it is--cats definitely have a "pose" gene. Balinese, the longhaired version of Siamese, with silky tails; the rare Kurilian Bobtail from the Kuril Islands; the graceful Turkish Angora; the trainable (!) Toyger--a treat for ailurophiles.
Some of these animals mesh in One Big Happy Family by Lisa Rogek (Thomas Dunne, $15.99 paper) and Unlikely Loves by Jennifer S. Holland (Workman, $13.95 paper)--stories and photos of improbable interspecies friendships: A fox and kittens, a Dalmatian and a spotted lamb, even a boa constrictor and a pit bull. Charming.
And for really charming, check out Much Loved by Mark Nixon(Abrams Image, $17.95). Photos of well-worn stuffed animals that have been "lovingly abused" will melt hearts. --Marilyn Dahl, editor, Shelf Awareness for Readers