Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lions, Tigers and Bears: Why Are Big Predators So Rare?


Lions, Tigers and Bears: Why Are Big Predators So Rare? by Ron Hirschi, photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen. ARC, from ALA DC 07, publisher Boyds Mills Press. Publication Date September 2007.

It's About:* Lions, and tigers, and bears!

The Good: ARCs of picture books are different from chapter books; "real" ARCs resemble paperback books, they just aren't bound as well. For picture books, tho, it's all loose pages, and if you're not careful they fall apart and get out of order.

So why are big predators so rare? Disappearing habitats. Many need room to roam; they need enough prey to sustain themselves and their offspring. And for many reasons, their natural habitat is disappearing because people are moving into their backyard. Other reasons: vary from hunters to global warming, war to road building.

While this book is sobering, it's not all doom & gloom; Hirschi includes information about steps people are taking to help the animals. It's rather interesting to read how people can make a difference in the lives of wild animals. Hirschi includes a list of organizations dedicated to helping wildlife at the end of the book. Hirschi offers just the right balance of "things are bad" with "it is still possible to change things."

My favorite bits: "A lioness gives birth to two or three cubs, often at the same time as other females within the pride. As night falls, females typically slink away, leaving their young in the care of sisters, aunts, or grandmothers." Tho the author quickly adds it is not to avoid responsibility, but rather to hunt: "The pressure to capture more prey increases as new cubs are born, and females have better success when hunting at night."

I also like that Hirschi doesn't downplay that dangerous animals are, well, dangerous: "[Tigers] will attack people, making it difficult to maintain tiger-friendly neighborhoods in some regions of the world. It is one thing to visit a zoo and watch a tiger that lives behind steel bars. It is another to reside in a village within a forest where tigers may make you or your brothers or sisters their next meal."

The wildlife photos are gorgeous. Seriously; I think Cheetah will be taking this book apart and hanging the photos on her wall (and since this is an ARC, that's OK!)

Reading level: while this is photo heavy, it is also text heavy. It's not a picture book or easy reader; I'd say elementary school, but kids of any age who like animals will like this book.

Animals include: cougars, polar bears, lions, cheetahs, tigers, grizzly bears, killer whales.

As I'm sure you have guessed, Cheetah loves animals, especially big cats. She will adore this book.

*As you know, I use "the plot/the good" for my reviews. Never liked doing it for nonfiction, but it was what I did. Took me this long to realize "it's about" is a good nf substitute.

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