As noted early on: “This book is about the largest and most powerful of all cats.”
These are, technically, big cats: tigers, lions, jaguars, leopards, snow leopards, and clouded leopards. Pumas and cheetahs have been included because, although they are more closely related to house cats, they are…big. Bishop is a wildlife photographer par excellence, filling every double-page spread with photographs—make that portraits—that arrest beholders. The layout is eye-catching, with generously leaded, large print, sometimes in colored ink, over photographic backgrounds or blocks of color; each page always includes one sentence in oversized type. The text is accessible, modulating between conversational and lyrical. Emphasis is placed on how big cats become skilled hunters, with details not for the faint of heart. Of a lion: “Saber-like canine teeth pierce and hold the struggling animal, giving it little chance of escape.” However, readers are spared any gore in the photographs, and the text is tactful about feline territorial disputes. Facts about specific big cats are used both to highlight differences and to demonstrate similarities across species. There’s vocabulary too, such as the word “coalition,” referring to a group of young, male cheetahs. Some readers may find that the use of “lioness” for female lions has a slightly anachronistic sound. The book ends with the recounting of some fascinating stories related to photographing cats in the wild, thoughtfully meting out compassion for both predators and prey.
Growing up beautiful and carnivorous.(index, glossary) (Informational picture book. 6-8)