Todd, Kim 1970-
Todd, Kim 1970-
PERSONAL: Born 1970; married; husband’s name Jay; children: two (twins). Education: Yale University, B.A., University of Montana, M.S., M.F.A.
ADDRESSES: Home— Missoula, MT. E-mail— [email protected]
CAREER: Environmental Leadership Program, senior fellow. Sierra Club national headquarters, editor, writer, and designer; taught environmental and nature writing at the University of Montana, University of California, Santa Cruz, and the Environmental Writers Institute.
AWARDS, HONORS: PEN/Jerard Award, Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and Booklist’s Top Ten Science/Technical Books designation, all for Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America.
Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America, illustrated by Claire Emery, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 2001.
Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2007.
Contributor to periodicals, including Grist, Orion, Backpacker, Northern Lights, Sierra, and California Wild.
SIDELIGHTS: Kim Todd frequently writes about environmental issues and has taught environmental and nature writing at a number of colleges. In a Grist article she writes of her childhood as the daughter of a Bay Area Rapid Transit electrical engineer whose preferred method of getting from place to place was either public transportation or walking. Each family trip included an inspection of the local rail systems— the T in Boston, the Metro in Washington, the subway in New York. He never said that their long walks to distant destinations that included parks and playgrounds saved fuel, instead he used the walks to talk about things that interested him and about which he wanted to teach his children. Todd wrote that “nothing that I’ve read since I was a child, no late-night discussions, no lecture by an eminent biologist or activist has had the same effect. A book or article laying out a graceful argument for avoiding meat from factory farms or creating a compost bin might spur a week-long transformation. But at root, my sole environmental virtue springs not from logic or good intentions. It comes from him.”
Todd’s first book, Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America, is a history of the introduction of nonnative species in America, some of which proved to be positive, while others were disastrous. The ladybug that was brought to California to combat the cottony cushion scale destroying orange groves continues to benefit farms and gardens, and the brown trout is a favorite of fly fishermen. Introductions such as the English sparrow, pigeon, and starling became nuisances, while others, like the gypsy moth, which was imported to attempt to breed a better silkworm, devastated half of the country after a small number escaped and spread. Some animals destroyed vegetation, such as the mountain goats that were released on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. In a review of Tinkering with Eden, Library Journal contributor Nancy Moeckel wrote that because of the debate over the release of genetically modified organisms, “there may be renewed interest in the impact of exotics.”
Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, Todd’s biography of and tribute to German naturalist Merian (1647-1717), was described by a Kirkus Reviews contributor as “a breathtaking example of scholarship and storytelling.” Merian, daughter of a publisher, learned to draw and engrave while studying silkworm metamorphosis and painted butterfly and moth larvae as she studied a range of insects, life forms that were neglected by her male contemporaries. She considered their relationship to the environment and became a friend of naturalists and scientists, left her husband to live in the Netherlands, and sold her art to support her daughters. She published four books about caterpillars, and at the age of fifty-two, she traveled to the Amazon to study and document species and bring many home. In order to finance the trip, Merian sold everything she owned, and she faced many dangers and obstacles in accomplishing her objectives for the expedition. After she died, Peter the Great bought her field notes and paintings, which were underappreciated until well beyond the Russian revolution. A Publishers Weekly reviewer concluded that Todd’s biography “should do much to further the renewed interest in this unusual woman and her pioneering approach to insect illustration.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
American Scholar, spring, 2001, Chris Mooney, review of Tinkering with Eden: A Natural History of Exotics in America, p. 148.
Booklist, January 1, 2001, Nancy Bent, review of Tinkering with Eden, p. 893.
Grist, June 15, 2006, Kim Todd, “Dad Reckoning: How My Father Taught Me to Leave Cars Behind.”
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of Chrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, p. 1119.
Kliatt, November, 2002, Katherine E. Gillen, review of Tinkering with Eden, p. 38.
Library Journal, March 1, 2001, Nancy Moeckel, review of Tinkering with Eden, p. 124.
New York Times Book Review, May 20, 2001, Carol Peace Robins, review of Tinkering with Eden.
OnEarth, winter, 2002, Anthony Jaffe, review of Tinkering with Eden, p. 39.
Publishers Weekly, October 2, 2006, review of Chrysalis, p. 47.
Science News, June 15, 2002, review of Tinkering with Eden, p. 383.
Kim Todd Home Page, http://www.kimtodd.net (January 10, 2007).