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What did you love best about Fingers in the Sparkle Jar?
How the writer communicated his wonderful love for animals and the natural world, as well as how this intense love effected him so profoundly. I loved the title Fingers in the Sparkle Jar and really enjoyed how it was written. I was aware Chris Packham was a television wildlife presenter but knew nothing else about him, this book has inspired me to rekindle a proper love of nature in my own life. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful and personal tale.
Who was your favorite character and why?
What about Chris Packham’s performance did you like?
His honesty and courage to do so.
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
Brought tears to my eyes several times
This is wildlife presenter Chris Packham's story of his childhood and adolescence. With his all-consuming passions for wildlife and his obsessional behaviour, the boy Chris knew that he was different, that he wasn't programmed to empathise with others - he just couldn't be like other people, least of all the other pupils at school (he was diagnosed in his 30s as having Asperger's syndrome). The anguish that this caused him - being the victim of brutal, heart-breaking bullying; knowing that he either talked too little or too much; the cringe-making attempts to connect with girls; the attachment to Anna in the pornographic magazine he found in a hedge - are detailed in acute, self-aware detail. Later on he details his feelings when he was suicidal on two different heart-rending occasions, and these offer insights which give positive understanding into into the mind-sets of those in such a dark place.
The flip side of the tortured anguish is Chris's passionate love of wildlife of every kind and, when younger, of dinosaurs about which he knew every fact there was to know. His fascination leads him to eat toad larvae to see if their molecules would sharpen his vision; to cycle off on night wildlife adventures; and become obsessed with otters. His greatest love was his rescued kestrel which was, as Chris writes so beautifully, 'something shiney I had caught with my heart' and which he tended and trained with meticulous care and devotion.
The 1970s background with all its minutiae of period detail - the Z Cars, Angel Delight, electric fires, Punk Rock - make the whole vibrantly real. The content is superb but I do have reservations about the writing, which is why it gets a 4 rather than 5. I can see that Packham intends the passages about the wildlife to convey his own young self's ecstasy which he experienced when with creatures, but he overdoes the prose. I found it overblown - far too many adjectives, metaphors (sometimes strained beyond meaning) , similes, adverbs, nouns made into verbs... just far too dense. Fewer would have been more effective. Sometimes his words are brilliant inventions - such as when he says at school when everyone else starts going to drunken parties at the weekends, he does his best to 'de-exist'. Also I'm not sure that Packham, makes the best narrator. He tends to put too much excitement into the wildlife passages to convey that same ecstasy, but for me it detracted.
But don't let that reservation put you off - this is a very special story and the incident where Chris tries to save a fox caught in the water with a snare around its neck is tremendously powerful and left me literally gasping. You won't hear a story like this anywhere else.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Loved it. The highs and lows of Chris Packham's animal - entwined adventures throughout his youth is a compelling read.
Read beautifully by the author.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful