Powerful acrylic paintings and detailed pencil sketches introduce awe-inspiring predators whose jaws and claws support their carnivorous diets.
In this sixth album in a series that began with Wild Tracks (2008), Arnosky presents five species of cats, four types of bears and gray wolves. The naturalist covers size, shape and appearance; where these remarkable creatures live; what and how they eat; and how they hunt for their prey. Each section includes a full-page painting of the animal in the wild opposite a page of conversational explanatory text and smaller, labeled sketches. Four fold-out pages provide the opportunity for even more dramatic spreads: a pride of African lions, two heading toward a herd of zebras; a close-up of a sunlit cheetah contrasted with a leopard hiding in a tree; a threatening grizzly bear’s sharp teeth and claws. Pencil sketches show the animals’ skulls and sharp shearing teeth, the different spot patterns of jaguars, leopards and cheetahs, and animal tracks. A sketch of an anaconda’s skull offers an interesting comparison. Occasionally the author describes a personal experience, though for the most part, he observed these animals in captivity, as readers will. Supporting this appealing introduction are solid suggestions for further reading about most species.
Smartly focused on characteristics that will most interest young animal admirers, this is an attractive addition to a popular series. (author’s note) (Informational picture book. 6-10)