As people create more farms in the areas of the African continent formerly populated by cheetahs, the animals have become endangered.
Incorporating two different writing styles in each double-page spread, Stanek aims to appeal to young readers’ emotions and intellect. A poem that begins: “I dream of cheetahs / racing on / across the bright savanna” runs throughout the book, ending with the repetitive phrase: “I dream of cheetahs / racing on… // …extinction / far behind them.” Accompanying the poem’s lines, a factual text explains cheetah behavior and some of the reasons for their endangerment and potential extinction, including increased human activity in their traditional habitat, causing a phenomenon known as “fragmented territory” which “makes it difficult for cheetahs to find mates.” The lines of the poem, which could be read aloud separately to a fairly young audience, and accompanying illustration take up three-quarters of each spread. Varying vertical, generically African-patterned borders break up the right-hand pages, separating the clearly written prose from the poem. The animal paintings, detailed and engaging, are the highlight of this useful book, but the few illustrations of humans are stiff and less successful. Several teaching activities round out the book, with more resources provided by the publisher to be found online. A Spanish-language edition publishes simultaneously in paperback.
This hybrid of poetic text with factual sidebars adequately serves its purpose as a way to interest early grade schoolers in the plight of one endangered species. (bibliography) (Informational picture book. 6-9)