PUBLISHED: 5:23 PM on Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Juneau authors publish two new nature books
Three Juneauites have teamed up to publish two new nature books now available in local bookstores. One takes readers on a tour of life near Mendenhall Glacier. The other introduces young readers to the fascinating life story of dragonflies, some of Southeast Alaskaas most colorful insects.

  John Hudson attempts to catch a dragonfly.
Naturalist and photographer Bob Armstrong and writer Marge Hermans produced "Life Around Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska" after Armstrong became fascinated last summer with the array of wildlife and plants he was able to observe just by walking along and close to the network of trails fanning out form the Glacier Visitor Center. The bookas photos and narrative about bears, salmon, birds, beavers, flowers, oddball plants and the locally treasured black wolf call attention to the remarkable diversity of life that has developed since Juneau's backyard glacier began retreating some 250 years ago. Bears lumber toward the camera carrying flopping salmon in their jaws; wildflowers bloom in brilliant color against backdrops of ice; and thereas a close look at how various life forms flourish.

The book could be helpful to visitors to help take full advantage of time at the glacier, but also paves the way for local residents to enjoy the Glacier Visitor Center and its surroundings on a new level.

To produce the second book, Armstrong and Hermans called on the expertise of John Hudson, an entomologist and fisheries biologist who also lives in Juneau. "Dragons in the Ponds" is geared to attract both young readers and the adults who enjoy learning with them. It depicts the true-life story of dragonflies, some of Southeast Alaskaas most colorful insects. The book combines Armstrong's photographs with a lively narrative to show how dragonflies live two lives - first in water, then in air. The story also takes a look at what these amazing insects eat and what eats them and how ferocious dragonflies really are. After many hours and long days in the field, Armstrong managed to capture photos of a dragonfly larva capturing small fish underwater, one emerging from a pond and transforming into an adult with wings, and several others laying their eggs on plants and on water - depending on their species.

The book also includes tips on how to observe dragonflies up close and briefly shows animals such as ducks, herons and Western toads that live in dragonfly habitat.

Both books are available from the Alaska Natural History Association bookstore at the Glacier Visitor's Center, Hearthside Books and other stores throughout Alaska.