This is a wonderful book, and one that I have become more and more indebted to as I found out my own "spirit guide" of the red-tailed hawk. I have another friend whose totem is a bird called the "flicker." Suddenly, every time I see a Great Blue Heron fly by or a flock of crows, I fly to my book and see what those animals "mean." It is important to say, therefore, that this book is more of a reference book and not a novel, per se. It is about the "wisdom" of the animal world and is a "how to" book in regards to interpreting signs and omens of the natural world.
In regards to this book as a text on how to identify animal signs and symbols, it is divided in to four sections: "Symbols in the Natural World," "Winged Enchantment," the section on birds; "Understanding Animal Medicine," which is really about what an Animal Totem really is; and "The Exotic Language of Insects and Reptiles."
Throughout the book there is a comprehensive list of over a hundred animals and what the presence of that animal could mean in your life. Once one reads the section on how to identify an animal totem, then you can learn more about the protective powers that animal totem can have. For example, take the section from "Winged Enchantment" about the woodpecker:
Sometimes the woodpecker will show up just to stimulate new rhythms. Rhythm is a powerful means of affecting the physical energies. Sometimes it is easy to get so wrapped up in our daily mental and spiritual activities that we neglect the physical. This can be when the woodpecker shows up. It may also reflect a need to drum some new changes and rhythms into your life.
This book is so well known (and in it's twenty-seventh edition!) that it is labeled as a "classic reference" about connections between the human world and the animal world.