Houghton Mifflin/Peter Davison, 272 pages, $21.95.
Mr. Mowat’s attractive memoir reveals that he was a most fortunate child. The family finances were initially precarious and his father’s enthusiasms were always erratic, but space was limitless and parental tolerance very nearly so. Young Mowat’s own enthusiasm was for the world of animals, birds, insects—any form of “the Others” aroused his interest and sympathy. The results of the boy’s observant collecting and cosseting were now and then hilarious, possibly useful, and in one instance led to the end of his employment as the local paper’s junior correspondent on birds. He wrote a precise description of the mating habits of the ruddy duck, and proofs were leaked to a member of what Robert Burns called the “unco guid.” Mr. Mowat did not pursue his alleged talent as a pomographer. He stuck to wildlife and oddball explorations and spirited comedy and is still at it, to the great good fortune of his readers.