My Penguin Year: Life Among the Emperors

Morrow. Nov. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780062971364. $27.99. NAT HIST
Natural history cameraman McCrae, winner of the 2019 BAFTA award in Factual Photography, spent his childhood observing the wildlife of England’s Lake District, which led to his appearance, at age 14, on the BBC wildlife program Springwatch. He later secured a job as a runner at Springwatch, which led to camera assistant job, and then had a freelance career filming wildlife in the UK and abroad. When the BBC offers McCrae his dream job, filming emperor penguins in Antarctica, there’s a catch: The job requires an 11-month commitment with no possibility of leaving Antarctica for eight of those months. McCrae accepts the job and begins a year of training and testing camera equipment, and then travels to Germany’s Neumayer III research station. McCrae shares the joy and heartbreak of filming the penguins from their march to their breeding grounds to their courtship, egg laying, and raising chicks.
VERDICT With beautifully descriptions of the stark landscape, harsh weather conditions, challenges of filming, and isolation during the dark Antarctica winter, this work lovingly and accurately details emperor penguin behavior in an engaging memoir that will appeal to wildlife enthusiasts, adventurers, and armchair travelers.

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