Using threats to endangered Bengal tigers’ survival as a springboard, Wells teaches young readers about the many ways humans interfere with the natural world and its biodiversity.
Opening with a Bengal tigress and her cubs, Wells introduces into the mix a langur monkey that stops the tigress from walking into a poacher’s trap. The anthropomorphized quartet (the tiger plants a big kiss on the monkey's cheek—yeah, right) then travel through the book together, teaching readers about habitat destruction, pollution, overharvesting, invasive species, biodiversity and extinction. Words are defined in the text, in a glossary or in glaring yellow “Learning Circle[s]” that also sometimes provide factoids, but while many of the glossary words are all in caps, there are other words that also appear this way that are not defined in the back. Also, while the more scientific terminology is defined, other vocabulary is not as audience-friendly: excessive, sensitive, vegetation, profit, livestock, disrupted, emit, incurable. Not as strong as its predecessors in the Wells of Knowledge Science series, this is not as well-written or -designed—the text is scattered across the spreads and often justified or otherwise confusingly spaced, making it difficult to follow. Too, there are a few pages that are vertically oriented. The pen-and-acrylic illustrations nicely convey the concepts using a mix of timelines, flowcharts and artwork, but the fact/fiction blend jars.
A hot topic receives a tepid treatment. (Informational picture book. 5-9)