Exploring the world of the loon

Loon Magic, by Tom Klein. Preface by Sigurd T. Olson. Edited by Jeff Fair. Ashland, Wis.: Paper Birch Press, Inc. 146 pp. $40. The Loon: Voice of the Wilderness, written and illustrated by Joan Dunning. Dublin, N.H.: Yankee Books. 143 pp. $15.95. Just what is loon magic? In his preface to Tom Klein's book, Sigurd Olson defines it as the power of the loon's presence to make humans feel they are part of the primitive world.

``Loon Magic'' surveys the world of the loon, both what is known and what is not known, and makes some guesses about the future of loons and people. It is thorough, readable, and easy to enjoy.

The photographs are splendid, including some remarkable views of what is going on underwater when a loon dives. (Not many people will have seen that before!)

Mr. Klein generously credits his almost innumerable sources of information, both published and unpublished, as well as the various photographers who contributed to his book.

He also provides an extensive bibliography for further reading, and an index. This second edition adds a few photographs, plus a ``Loon Lovers' Digest,'' which is a summary of loon lore in question-and-answer form.

Joan Dunning has put together a different, simpler kind of book, using much the same information.

In her book, ``The Loon,'' she, too, provides a bibliograpy and index, adding an appendix summarizing what is known about loon language, nest types, eggs, and environmental threats. She writes poetically, unfolding a year in the life of aloon as if she were part of its world.

Dunning has illustrated her tale with lovely, sensitive watercolors and drawings or diagrams, which sometimes tell more than the expert photographs in Mr. Klein's book. The combination seems to convey loon magic more effectively than does the book by that name.

If one were to choose between these two books, price might be a factor, along with one's preferences for information given as a narrative vs. that given more scientifically. Both books serve well the cause of loon preservation.

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