A wildlife photographer’s images and accompanying descriptions of individual Asian moon bears from animal-rescue centers in Vietnam and China introduce these appealing creatures.
At his publisher’s behest and fresh from his work in the far north for Polar Bears (2011), Newman went to Asia to photograph moon bears rescued by the Animals Asia Foundation. The result is this unusual introduction, which names individual bears and describes moon bears’ physical features, habits, and habitats in a two-level text. In large display type, a simple sentence includes the animal’s name and a statement: “Poppy’s big, round ears help her hear what’s happening around her.” A paragraph in smaller type connects the detail about the specific animal to more general characteristics of the species. Some color photos fill just a portion of a page or double-page spread, while others are full-page images, black-and-white vignettes, or even some color snapshots. Variations in format and arrangement of text and images provide enough visual pop to keep readers engaged. Wisely, given his target audience, the author makes no mention of bile bear farming until the concluding note, clearly aimed at adults who can decide whether and when to pass this sad fact on.
Pair this with the collages and more lyrical text of Brenda Z. Guiberson and Ed Young’s Moon Bear (2010) to extend the conversation with young readers and listeners. (Informational picture book. 4-8)