Holly Menino, ICOA board member, produced two books recently, with very different audiences. The first, Calls Beyond Our Hearing: Unlocking the Secrets of Animal Voices was published last April and is a fascinating exploration of animals, their voices, and their survival. Recovering from hearing loss after suffering a concussion, Menino was drawn to discovering why sound is so important to life. Her research led her to travel the world to locate the latest research on the vocal communications of a wide range of animals as they feed, play, fight, mate, and communicate for survival. In this fascinating book she explains how, voice by voice, researchers can assemble the building blocks of animal communication, such as: how túngara frogs distinguish one mate from thousands of suitors; the purposeful song duets of rare birds in a remote island wilderness; England’s iconic red deer and the interloper that is diluting the species; how meerkats gather, warn or help each other, and reject outsiders with vocalizations; and the communication of elephants in close groups and across great distances.
Kirkus Reviews said the book was “a charming meditation on the world of sound” while the Washington Post stated that “with her literate and lively style, [Menino] makes her book a scientific page-turner… Inviting, rigorous and balanced.” Natural History magazine published an excerpt from Calls Beyond our Hearing, about England’s iconic red deer, in its February 2012 issue. Audubon ran an different excerpt on its website, along with a sound file for a bird that sings duets (you can read about and listen to the bird here) and listed it as one of the magazine’s most notable science books of 2012 (their review is also available here). Calls Beyond our Hearing was also listed with the One Spirit Book Club, which offers inspirational books by popular authors. Calls Beyond Our Hearing, published by St. Martin’s Press in April 2012, will engage anyone interested in the musical world of creatures, and what animal communication can teach us about our own voices and songs.
On the other side of her writing life, Menino’s murder mystery Murder, She Rode is in production at Minotaur Books with publication scheduled for the summer of 2013. The story is set in the horse world, more specifically the world of three-day eventing. Murder, She Rode is Menino’s first work of fiction for adults. She is also the author of Pandora: A Raccoon’s Journey, a novel for children, and the nonfiction books Forward Motion: Horses, Humans, and the Competitive Enterprise and Darwin’s Fox and My Coyote. A contributor to Smithsonian and National Geographic, she has served as editorial director and contributor to numerous public radio features about the natural world. She is a member of the Ithaca City of Asylum board and says ICOA was a great discovery for her. “It is inspiring to work with this group of friends who are such strong advocates for freedom of expression and who are willing to put their beliefs into action.”