100 Endangered Species (Rachel Hudson)

Hello, friends! Our book today is 100 Endangered Species by Rachel Hudson, an awesome compendium of creatures from around the world who are in need of protection.

Perhaps you’ve heard of the orangutan, but have you ever heard of a Moscardón? Did you know whooping cranes mated for life? Or that there are only 200 to 300 Cross River gorillas left in the wild? Each page of this wildly comprehensive book features an animal on the IUCN Red List, ranging from low risk to critically endangered, and is classified as a “conservation priority”. In addition to information about their habitats, locations, and threats to the species, each animal is accompanied by a colorful and charming illustration to bring them to life. Readers can learn about animals they know, ones they may not have known of before, and what they can do to help these unique creatures thrive.

Fascinating! Hutton does a fantastic job of condensing information about each animal in two or three paragraphs, giving young bookworms just enough information to engage, not overwhelm. The animals themselves are a great mix of the familiar (African elephants, giant pandas, polar bears, etc.) and the more esoteric (purple-faced langurs, Danube clouded yellows, hirolas, and many more). Backmatter includes a glossary and a thorough list of conservation organizations, and the illustrated table of contents provides a clever visual treat. Overall, this is an interesting little book that provides a great deal of educational material for older elementary to middle-grade bookworms. It was obviously a little dense for JJ to get through in one sitting, but she loved the animal artwork. A wonderful way to get little ones invested in wildlife conservation, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife (Meeg Pincus)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Cougar Crossing: How Hollywood’s Celebrity Cougar Helped Build a Bridge for City Wildlife, written by Meeg Pincus and illustrated by Alexander Vidal, the true story of P-22, the famous mountain lion of Los Angeles’s Griffith Park.

P-22 (P for “puma”, 22 for his ID number) found himself in a quandary when it came time to establish his territory as an adult male cougar. All of the available territory near his birthplace had already been claimed by other cougars, and the crowded city of Los Angeles had cut him off from more space. After managing to cross 20(!) lanes of LA traffic, P-22 finds himself in a wooded area far smaller than a typical mountain lion territory – but it will have to do. And so, P-22 became the “Hollywood cougar” of Griffith Park, a mascot for urban wildlife and prime example of the need for wildlife bridges – structures that span highways to allow for safe, natural animal crossings – in cities.

Informative. The narrative follows P-22’s life story, including a few somewhat serious misadventures – such as getting trapped in the crawl space of a house and eating one of the LA Zoo’s koalas – creating empathy with P-22 while emphasizing that he is a WILD animal. Interspersed are comments from Miguel Ordeñana and Jeff Sikich, wildlife experts who worked on P-22’s study, on how the cougar’s life was affected by humans and how he, in turn, inspired the public to support the funding of a LA wildlife bridge project. It’s an informative and educational tale, but please note, there’s no Hollywood ending for P-22: he never found the mate he sought in the story, and will likely pass on before the wildlife bridge is finished, making for a bittersweet ending. However, for older kids learning about wildlife conservation, it’s a compelling look at how urban encroachment affected one creature’s life. The illustrations are lovely, letting the reader view the world through the nocturnal cat’s eyes, with a clever seek-and-find element that features 20 species native to Southern California. The length is best for older bookworms and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, a unique story with an important message, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Little Otter Learns To Swim (Artie Knapp)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Little Otter Learns To Swim, written by Artie Knapp and illustrated by Guy Hobbs, the story of a little river otter’s very big day.

It’s Little Otter’s first day away from the den – that day she learns to swim. She is scared of the river, but her mother insists that it will be fine. And after a few practice splashes, she is! She finds that she loves swimming, and her mother shows her all the things she needs to know to stay safe in and around their river. After a few curious explorations and thrilling creature encounters, Mother Otter and Little Otter return to their den and curl up for a good night’s rest.

Very cute. Sticking to a simple, gentle story, the reader is introduced to the world of a river otter; primarily their environment and habitat, and the animals that share those with them. The illustrations are done in a realistic, naturalist-art style that gives a compelling look at animals both familiar and unfamiliar, such as bobcats, bumblebees, rainbow trout and more. The rhyming text takes an occasional stumble over rhythm and meter, but has an earnest sweetness that makes these awkward moments easy to forgive. The length was fine, and JJ loved looking at all the animals. Wonderful for wildlife fans, especially with the wealth of back matter on otters. We enjoyed it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Look At Me!: Wild Animal Show-Offs (Jim Arnosky)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Look At Me!: Wild Animal Show-Offs by Jim Arnosky, a colorful look at how animals of all kinds use color, sound, and other tricks to express, defend, and identify themselves.

The latest in his nature series for kids, Arnosky introduces readers to animals who like to “show off”. Dividing them into shared characteristics such as “Fanned Tails” (peacocks and turkeys) or “Noisemakers” (rattlesnakes, bullfrogs, beavers, etc.), the text touches on various ways that animals use auditory or visual displays to establish dominance, find mates, ward off predators, and so on. Beautiful, eye-catching art brings each creature to life in stunning detail.

This was definitely interesting. It’s the first of this series that I’ve looked at, and there were definitely some elements that stood out. First, the art is simply stunning – richly colored and exceptionally realistic pencil drawings and paintings were a huge treat for JJ. However, I would definitely say that this is not a book for very small bookworms – while the illustrations are exceptional, the first-person journal-style text is not particularly suited for younger readers. It does give the book a sense of paging through a naturalist’s field journal, which could be neat for older readers, but also left the information covered a bit too disjointed for JJ to follow. Also, while Arnosky’s hand-picked examples and first-hand observations are interesting, they limit the breadth of the material covered in what is a rather short book of this type. I would be interested to see how this volume fits among the set, rather than standing on its own. Still, this is a wonderfully personal look inside some incredible animal species and a noted expert’s take on them, and would absolutely interest older animal- and nature-loving kids. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Over And Under The Snow (Kate Messner)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Over And Under The Snow, written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal, a look at the wondrous natural habitats that animals form during snowy winter.

A little girl and her father cross-country ski through a quiet wood, the trees bare and the ground covered in pure white snow. The girl sees a red squirrel disappear through a snowbank, and asks her father where the squirrel went. “Under The Snow,” he replies. As the girl and her father continue on their trek, they spot tracks and animals making their way through the frozen forest, while the reader is shown the animals who have made their shelter beneath the snowdrifts and the girl’s very feet.

This was a really pretty book with a lot of interesting information about how animals’ habitats can change in snowy climates. Between the tranquil, understated text that describes the activity above and below the snow and the serene simplicity of the mixed-media illustrations, the story achieves an almost meditative quality that is very soothing. For curious little readers, there is an informative appendix that expands on the information about the animals and habitats introduced throughout the book. The length is good, though I will say that the calmness of the text and the mostly-winter whites palette did not seem to hold JJ’s attention for long. This one would be best for slightly older bookworms, especially those interested in nature – animal lovers will treasure the gorgeous art and informative text. Overall, a lovely look at winter creatures, and Baby Bookworm approved!