Joy Adamson

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Alfred C. Ames

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Last Updated on June 7, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 545

The Spotted Sphinx is the record of a long association, one still very much alive at the end of the book….

A book by Joy Adamson grabs a reader and holds him. It is of course tremendously moving to see a member of our own species establish a relationship of trust and affection with an animal historically viewed as fearfully savage, an absolute threat to life and limb….

Perhaps not everyone can happily surrender himself to Mrs. Adamson's day-by-day account of the search for one to five elusive cheetahs, of a prolonged succession of meals of freshly slaughtered goat meat, of bouts of worry interspersed with moments of happy play with strong animals who mean no harm but never sheathe their claws….

[There] must be something lacking in anyone who doesn't want to read about Elsa the lioness or Pippa the cheetah.

These are pages that were lived, by both people and animals, with high courage and deep affection—qualities vigorously communicated in Mrs. Adamson's matter-of-fact prose. She doesn't say that life is wonderful and precious when lived close to and obedient to natural necessities; but she proves it.

Alfred C. Ames, "After Elsa, Pippa," in Book World—Chicago Tribune (© 1969 Postrib Corp.; reprinted by permission of Chicago Tribune and The Washington Post), October 19, 1969, p. 10.

The shortest, warmest and truest thing to say about [The Spotted Sphinx] is what the millions of readers of Born Free will feel about it: [Mrs. Adamson] has done it again. The philosophy behind her experiments with wild animals in north-east Kenya is in the main true in theory but most laborious and even dangerous in accomplishment….

[There] is so much vital warmth in Mrs. Adamson's narrative that one hardly notices its danger signals—for instance Mrs. Adamson's fear of elephant.

Pippa's release is not as complete a work of popular art as Elsa's, because it is partly tangled with the filming of the lion story, but its pictorial record is superb, for here is an animal that rests in the most beautiful of natural poses. There is a brief appearance of Tanga, a leopard cub. He died young, but not before one cherishes the hope that leopards will be the third on the Adamsons' list of hard-won revelations.

"The Adamson Technique," in The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1970; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), No. 3544, January 29, 1970, p. 102.

The unusual quality of [Joy Adamson's] relationship with animals is that she is completely unsentimental about them, and while loving them intensely as individuals she has no wish to remake them in her own human image; indeed, she is at pains to ensure that they will be able to exist in the wild whether she is there or not…. [In Pippa's Challenge] we read of [Pippa's] later years, her last litter and their growth to puberty, and of her death…. The doings of this little family are so lovingly described that some of the author's grief and happiness spill over onto the reader who … can really feel that the animals are his friends too. This is not specifically a children's edition but there will be many young people who will read the book with interest.

"For the Intermediate Library: 'Pippa's Challenge'," in The Junior Bookshelf, Vol. 36, No. 4, August, 1972, p. 259.

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