PANTHER

The thrill of the hunt propels two children into an unusual (to say the least) wildlife encounter on an isolated West Country moor, in this brief tale from the author of War Dog (1997). Left to their own devices on a fishing trip, nature enthusiasts Pati and Simon set out to explore the surrounding countryside in which, if local reports are to be believed, a panther roams. Pati, mad for leopards and other big cats, yearns for a sighting, not suspecting how quickly her wish is about to be granted—and in spades. Booth gives his young characters generous helpings of common sense and conscientious respect for the natural world, too. They pack the right supplies for a long hike, take proper safety precautions, and when they find not just one panther but an entire family, they resolve to keep the discovery, and the exciting pictures Pati takes, secret, knowing full well what would happen if this proof ever got out. The author doesn't even try to explain where the cats came from or how they could remain hidden in England, of all places, but there's enough wonder and satisfaction in the episode to still such questions. Appealingly short and absorbing. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-82976-0

Page Count: 96

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2001

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RED-EYED TREE FROG

Bishop’s spectacular photographs of the tiny red-eyed tree frog defeat an incidental text from Cowley (Singing Down the Rain, 1997, etc.). The frog, only two inches long, is enormous in this title; it appears along with other nocturnal residents of the rain forests of Central America, including the iguana, ant, katydid, caterpillar, and moth. In a final section, Cowley explains how small the frog is and aspects of its life cycle. The main text, however, is an afterthought to dramatic events in the photos, e.g., “But the red-eyed tree frog has been asleep all day. It wakes up hungry. What will it eat? Here is an iguana. Frogs do not eat iguanas.” Accompanying an astonishing photograph of the tree frog leaping away from a boa snake are three lines (“The snake flicks its tongue. It tastes frog in the air. Look out, frog!”) that neither advance nor complement the action. The layout employs pale and deep green pages and typeface, and large jewel-like photographs in which green and red dominate. The combination of such visually sophisticated pages and simplistic captions make this a top-heavy, unsatisfying title. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-590-87175-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1999

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PIGS

Gibbons’s 100th book is devoted to presenting swine in a positive light; she quickly demystifies the stereotypes that cast pigs as smelly, dirty, greedy, and dull. Descended and domesticated from the wild boar, pigs come in hundreds of varieties, colors, shapes, and sizes; in simple language, the book outlines their characteristics, breeds, intelligence, communication, habits, and uses. The author distinguishes the various terms—hog, swine, gilt, sow, boar—while also explaining the act of wallowing in mud. The bulk of the text is characteristically factual, but Gibbons allows herself an opinion or two: “They are cute and lovable with their curly tails, their flat pink snouts and their noisy squeals and grunts.” Pen-and-watercolor drawings show sprightly pigs and a plethora of pink-cheeked children in tranquil farm scenes. (Picture book/nonfiction. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 15, 1999

ISBN: 0-8234-1441-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1999

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