Beautifully illustrated animals in their native environments by Eijkenbroek (Somewhere Out There, 2016) populate the pages of debut author Steele’s fact book about several endangered species.
Starting with many kids’ favorite, elephants, Steele catalogs 17 species of endangered animals. Mainly mammals, each animal is accompanied by a fascinating fact. Elephants, for example, have a pouch in their throats to store water. Polar bears have unusual dots, or papillae, on their paws to grip slippery surfaces. Indiana bats hibernate; crimson-wing flamingos get their pink hue from carotene in their food; and red-eyed tree frogs “have suction tapes on their feet.” Readers already familiar with animal facts may still find some new information as well as a few species that are less familiar, but most of the entries cover known territory. Steele, a Canadian, lists units in both metric and standard, and she gives a size comparison to help kids imagine animals’ weights: a male Siberian tiger is “the size of a large piano,” while sea otters can weigh “as much as a large television!” The book uses a child-friendly, conversational tone and relies on cool facts for structure rather than overarching themes. The painterly illustrations are realistic looking, featuring habitats that give context for where the animals live. Some nature scenes may upset young readers, including the illustration of a crocodile snatching a long-winged pink bird out of the sky. The cover features a giraffe, and the front papers show a snow leopard; however, neither appears in the book; they are represented on the associated website instead. Frequently, the text offers information, such as a description of the nests of chimpanzees, that isn’t included in the image—a missed opportunity. Five percent of the purchase price of each book will be donated to the Canadian Wildlife Federation.
Treads familiar ground, but the seriousness of endangered animals makes the theme a perennial one; young readers who love fact collections about animals will want to make a spot for this one.