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May 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Special Feature
Each January in Book Links, we publish a partner list to Booklist’s Books for Youth Editors’ Choice selections. “Lasting Connections” highlights our top 30 choices for the K–8 classroom, all published in the previous year and all selected for their natural connections across the curriculum and to the Common Core State Standards.
Animals by the Numbers: A Book of Infographics. By Steve Jenkins. Illus. by the author. 48p. HMH, $17.99 (9780544630925). Gr. 3–6. 590.
Caldecott Honor winner Jenkins is well known for his paper-collage artwork and for deploying fascinating animal facts in easily digestible picture-book formats. Each spread in this volume spotlights a different topic, such as the expected standards of animal size and speed, as well as more obscure features, like the spread comparing tongue lengths. The graphics are paired with explanatory text that defines key terms and snappy collage illustrations. The pages highlighting animals that thrive in extreme temperatures feature a handy thermometer chart, and special attention is given to tardigrades, microscopic creatures that can live anywhere. The intriguing and engaging format of this title is stimulating on a variety of levels, and the approach should appeal to a wide range of students, especially visual learners, something for which educators will be grateful.
How Much Does a Ladybug Weigh? By Alison Limentani. Illus. by the author. 32p. Boxer, $14.95 (9781910716113). PreS–Gr. 2. 513.2.
Relative size and counting are combined in this elegant picture-book exploration of math that truly speaks to the intended audience. Each large, color-saturated two-page spread presents handsome lino cuts of a wide variety of wildlife, comparing their weights in decreasing numbers—“10 ants weigh the same as 1 ladybug,” “9 ladybugs weigh the same as 1 grasshopper,” and so on, until “1 swan weighs the same as 362,880 ladybugs.” The comparisons are visually clear and stunning to consider, especially when Limentani includes an illustration of thousands of ladybugs, which is in thrilling contrast to the fairly spare layouts preceding it. Average weights for each creature are listed at the end, and the realistically detailed pictures make for lovely browsing. Meanwhile, the math focus gently invites students to consider computation based on the comparisons offered.
ABC Dream. By Kim Krans. Illus. by the author. 48p. Random, $16.99 (9780553539295). PreS–Gr. 2.
In this stunning wordless alphabet book, Krans’ intricate black-and-white pen-and-ink art stylishly surrounds large-scale, uppercase letters with unlabeled images. Some are easy to identify, such as an apple, arrow, and ant for A; others will spark discussion. D is for dog, and that dog is a Dalmatian surrounded by dandelions, dragonflies, and diamonds. Look close: the quail pictured in the quilted Q is a queen. A mouse admires his handsome whiskers in the mirrored M. Wondering why the unicorn (U) is pictured upside down? Ah-ha moments abound in this imaginative abecedary. And if little ones are stumped by the trickier objects (russet-colored hinges, for instance, nestled in the crease between H and I), they can test whether or not they have caught all the tricks by comparing their responses with the key provided on the last spread.
Booked. By Kwame Alexander. 320p. HMH, $16.99 (9780544570986). Gr. 5–8.
Twelve-year-old Nick is a stupendous soccer player and possesses a vocabulary that stupefies ordinary kids his age. His life abruptly crumbles, however, when his mom announces she’s leaving home to take a job in Kentucky, and a ruptured appendix lands Nick in the hospital, keeping him from playing in a prestigious soccer tournament. Newbery winner Alexander treats readers to a blend of poetry, humor, and insight, enhanced with a thrilling literary zest. Mr. Mac, the passionate school librarian—and former rapper—suggests book after wonderful book to smart but reading-averse Nick. It’s not a small thing to incorporate big issues like bullying and divorce into eminently readable free verse that connects boys, sports, and reading. Middle-school readers and their advocates will surely love Alexander’s joyous wordplay and celebration of reading.
Du Iz Tak? By Carson Ellis. Illus. by the author. 48p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763665302). PreS–Gr. 2.
Ellis elevates gibberish to an art form with her brilliant account of a few bugs who discover a green shoot sprouting from the ground. “Du iz tak?” a dapper wasp asks upon seeing it. “Ma nazoot,” comes the puzzled reply. More bugs gather, and their curiosity and excitement grows along with the plant, which eventually blossoms and then wilts as winter descends. Readers and prereaders alike will find myriad visual cues in Ellis’ splendid folk-style illustrations that will allow them to draw meaning from the nonsensical dialogue as well as observe the subtle changing of the seasons. The entire story unfolds on the same small stretch of ground, where each new detail is integral to the scene at hand. Effortlessly working on many levels, Ellis’ newest is outstanding.
Ghosts. By Raina Telgemeier. Illus. by the author. 256p. Scholastic/Graphix, $24.99 (9780545540612). Gr. 4–7. 741.5.
Cat and her family move to foggy, windy Bahía de la Luna for her little sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis, since the new climate will be better for her health. Then next-door-neighbor Carlos won’t shut up about the ghosts of the town, and although bouncy, gregarious Maya is thrilled at the thought of meeting ghosts—she’s eager to have some reassurances about death—Cat is terrified, especially after Maya finally meets the ghosts and the exertion puts her in the hospital for weeks. Telgemeier deftly weaves serious topics through the breezy presentation and masterfully and concisely adds layers of meaning. The bright tones and wonderfully expressive figures of the racially diverse cast (and jaunty ghosts) give this compassionate, approachable, and gentle graphic novel about death extra value, especially for those just learning about it.
Greenling. By Levi Pinfold. Illus. by the author. 40p. Candlewick/Templar, $17.99 (9780763675981). PreS–Gr. 2.
When Mr. Barleycorn brings home an odd green baby, his wife wants him to get rid of it, but “You cannot return for a refund. / A baby is not like a hat. / What’s picked is picked, what’s done is done, / and that, Barleycorns, is that.” As the baby grows, nature runs wild, and when angry townspeople call for the Barleycorns to get rid of the child, Mrs. Barleycorn changes her mind: “We should welcome this Greenling into our house, / we’ve been living in his all along!” The rhyme scheme is gentle and soothing, and Pinfold’s luminous mixed-media illustrations are gloriously strange. This fable about the balance between technology and nature is an important first lesson on environmentalism for young students.
¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Forest. By Lulu Delacre. Illus. by the author. 40p. Lee & Low, $18.95 (9780892393275). K–Gr. 3. 599.76.
Delacre frames this offering as a zoologist’s search for “the elusive olinguito” in an Ecuadorian cloud forest. Each two-page spread stresses one letter on the left page and the subsequent letter on the right. Though the book is bilingual, its slight emphasis upon Spanish over English is not only appropriate; it should work to spark the curiosity of kids fluent only in the latter. The two languages are close enough that usually the promoted letter is prominent in both (see “brilla un bosque bordado” versus “blooms a brilliant forest”). Four-fifths of each page is dominated by Delacre’s bright, often pastel depictions of animals positioned so close to the reader it’s as if they are right behind safety glass. This is a double-win for students: language and science in perfect harmony.
The Poet’s Dog. By Patricia MacLachlan. 112p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $14.99 (9780062292629). Gr. 4–7.
“I found the boy at dusk.” So begins this story, told by a dog. During a blizzard, siblings Nickle and Flora leave their car to find help. Irish wolfhound Teddy leads them to the former cabin of Sylvan, a poet who was the only one who could understand Teddy’s spoken words—until now. The children are not overly surprised that Teddy can talk; indeed, they are charmed. More pressing is figuring out how to keep themselves safe in the storm. Newbery Medalist MacLachlan moves back and forth in time as Teddy remembers his days with the cranky but perceptive Sylvan and regathers his sense of stability as he makes new memories with Nickle and Flora. Perfect to read aloud to a class, this can help teach about poetry, self-sufficiency, friendship, and love of a variety of sorts.
Some Writer! The Story of E. B. White. By Melissa Sweet. Illus. by the author. 176p. HMH, $18.99 (9780544319592). Gr. 2–5. 818.
Here, Sweet focuses particularly on the idyllic Maine childhood of notable wordsmith E. B. White and his career as a writer and editor at the New Yorker. She highlights his affection for animals and the outdoors as well as his love of words, all of which directly influenced his writing for children. Elements of White’s life are tied together by the pleasantly rambling prose and the enchanting illustrations, constructed from found objects, collage, and watercolor scenes. White’s story—reluctant about his rising fame, infamously shy, not especially ambitious but driven to pursue what he deeply enjoyed—is ideal for kids who relish staying out of the limelight. This beautiful piece of bookmaking will easily draw in curious students, and the warm account of the adored author will keep them turning pages.
What to Do with a Box. By Jane Yolen. Illus. by Chris Sheban. 32p. Creative Editions, $17.99 (9781568462899). PreS–Gr. 1.
Starring a bespectacled girl, a red-haired boy, and, at center stage, a big cardboard box, this book is written in spare but appealing rhymes. The watercolor, colored-pencil, and white acrylic-paint illustrations were smartly done on actual cardboard, effectively immersing young readers into the experience. Yolen’s text suggests a variety of ways that kids can use such a container: it can be a place to read books, to play with a friend, and to make art. It can also be a vehicle for make-believe. The book’s final page, featuring the familiar words this end up turned into the end, is another nice touch of thinking outside the box. Clever, sweet, and with interesting perspective, this homage to creative play and makerspaces has natural classroom applications.
Wolf Hollow. By Lauren Wolk. 304p. Dutton, $16.99 (9781101994825). Gr. 5–8.
Eleven-year-old Annabelle is living a relatively idyllic life on her family’s Pennsylvania farm until its normalcy is interrupted by Betty Glengarry, who has been sent to live with her grandparents because she is “incorrigible.” Betty’s sullen presence quickly upsets the one-room school’s traditional pecking order, and Annabelle and her younger brothers are Betty’s favorite targets—until Annabelle stands up to her. Not to be outdone, Betty shifts her attention to Toby, a strange WWI veteran already saddled with a dubious reputation. In spare and beautiful language, Wolk conjures an aura of unease, even while suggesting that a happy ending is possible. The message is relentless: lies and secrets, even for the most noble of reasons, have unintended consequences. Perfectly pitched to be used in classrooms in conjunction with To Kill a Mockingbird.
Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragists, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles. By Mara Rockliff. Illus. by Hadley Hooper. 40p. Candlewick, $16.99 (9780763678937). Gr. 2–4. 324.6.
In 1916, two women, Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, hopped into their little yellow car, with “a teeny-tiny typewriter / an itsy-bitsy sewing machine . . . / and a wee black kitten,” and set off on a 10,000-mile journey to encourage women’s suffrage. This high-spirited picture book, as engaging as it is informative, follows the women as they drive through icy streams, a blizzard, and thick sand, all in an effort to get people to listen to their message. Rockliff’s snappy, sassy text is matched by Hooper’s inventive illustrations, which crackle with activity and humor. Sometimes there is more emphasis on the journey than the reason for it, but kids with questions will find much in the back matter about the movement.
Clara: The (Mostly) True Story of the Rhinoceros Who Dazzled Kings, Inspired Artists, and Won the Hearts of Everyone . . . While She Ate Her Way Up and Down a Continent! By Emily Arnold McCully. Illus. by the author. 48p. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $17.99 (9780553522464). K–Gr. 3.
In 1741, Captain Van der Meer sailed to India and returned to Holland with a “mythical beast,” an orphaned, one-year-old rhinoceros named Clara. The sweetness of their relationship is on display as they tour Europe for the next 17 years, attracting crowds and royal attention. In this smoothly written, fictionalized tale based on historical facts, McCully shows what a marvel it was at that time before nature films, photography, and zoos for people to see a large, unfamiliar animal. The graceful and beautifully composed ink-and-watercolor illustrations portraying adorable Clara will charm young readers. Pair this with the many history-based picture books, such as Dianne Hofmeyr’s Zeraffa Giraffa (2014), telling of a giraffe that traveled from Egypt to France in 1826 and, like Clara, drew admiring crowds wherever she went.
Fannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights. By Mary Cronk Farrell. 56p. Abrams, $19.95 (9781419718847). Gr. 5–8. 331.88092.
The author may be addressing this stirring story of early union activist Fannie Sellins (1872–1919) to middle-schoolers, but the rigor of her approach yields a book with solid scholarly features: a noncondescending glossary, a time line for historical context, recommendations for further reading, and a helpful index. In 1902, Sellins first heard about the United Garment Workers of America. She helped to organize her fellow seamstresses, most of whom were recent immigrants, into Ladies’ Local 67. The threat of a strike resulted in a grudging doubling of wages, and within a few years, Sellins was traveling to hot spots around the country to spread the word. Her story, richly illustrated with vintage photographs and documents, drives home the message that the work she fought for is far from over.
Freedom over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan. By Ashley Bryan. Illus. by the author. 56p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy, $17.99 (9781481456906). Gr. 3–5.
Inspired by a document appraising the value of 11 enslaved people, this exceptional book presents the imagined faces and voices of individuals whose society, against all reason, regarded them as less than human. Each person appears in a four-page section: first, a page of free-verse text opposite a riveting head-and-shoulders portrait. A banner reveals the person’s appraised value, master-imposed slave name, and age before these individuals introduce themselves, their roles on the estate, and the skills they take pride in. On the second double-page spread, a verse text offers more personal reflections on their African roots, their love of family, and their dreams alongside a more detailed, colorful painting. Rooted in history, this powerful, imaginative book honors those who endured slavery in America.
I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. By Debbie Levy. Illus. by Elizabeth Baddeley. 40p. Simon & Schuster, $17.99 (9781481465595). Gr. 1–3. 347.73.
Young Ruth learned early on the importance of a powerful dissent. Her mother objected to the notion that girls shouldn’t get an education, while in college, Ruth objected to the notion that a woman couldn’t pursue a law career. Her fearless objections to the unfair status quo not only led the way to her career as a Supreme Court justice but also contributed to the dismantling of many discriminatory laws. Baddeley’s dynamic illustrations, in a rich palette, highlight each moment of dissension, with an artful I dissent written in arcing calligraphy; Ginsburg’s friendship with Antonin Scalia, meanwhile, is an example of how disagreement can lead to meaningful discussion and doesn’t have to be personal. This lively, inviting, and informative biography of a historic woman will empower young ones to bravely voice their opinions.
The Journey. By Francesca Sanna. Illus. by the author. 48p. Flying Eye, $17.95 (9781909263994). K–Gr. 2.
Based on interviews she conducted with families at an Italian refugee center, Sanna’s debut picture book uses powerful yet fanciful imagery to tell the story of one family’s flight from danger in an unnamed country. The story begins with a family of four on a beach, where war comes in the form of a pitch-black wave attacking the shore, knocking down sand castles and causing havoc. The now-smaller family begins a journey that resembles a fairy tale, softening some of the inherent danger. The straightforward text, from the children’s perspective, contrasts compellingly with images of the mother, who cries when they’re not looking. By the end, the family has still not reached safety. Simultaneously heartbreaking, scary, and brightly hopeful, this timely tale with simply captivating artwork will spur children to ask questions that lack easy answers.
The Princess and the Warrior. By Duncan Tonatiuh. Illus. by the author. 40p. Abrams, $16.95 (9781419721304). K–Gr. 3.
Two great volcanoes, Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl, stand outside of today’s Mexico City and have been the inspiration for many folktales and origin stories. Using stylized images (based on several ancient Mixtec codices), Tonatiuh reminds us of the highly developed cultures that came up with these stories. In this particular myth, a beautiful princess falls in love with a soldier, Popoca. Her father tells Popoca that if he defeats the village’s greatest enemy, he can marry the princess, until treachery and miscommunication lead to tragedy. The appealing story, compelling illustrations, and celebration of the Aztec culture provide an engaging tale, while an extensive author’s note goes a step beyond, adding to the impact of the tale with a great deal of historical and cultural information and infusing it with education value.
Steamboat School. By Deborah Hopkinson. Illus. by Ron Husband. 40p. Disney/Jump at the Sun, $17.99 (9781423121961). K–Gr. 3.
Growing up African American in Saint Louis in 1847, James isn’t sure he wants to attend school. One day, the sheriff and his men burst into their basement schoolroom, enforcing a new Missouri law prohibiting “the instruction of negroes or mulattoes” to read or write. As James says in the vivid first-person narrative, “Funny how something you don’t care much about at first can end up becoming the most important part of you.” Circumventing the law by teaching school on a steamboat in the Mississippi River, beyond the state’s jurisdiction, Reverend John inspires James with hard work and courage. Hopkinson tells the story with clarity, economy, and grace, and Husband’s cross-hatched illustrations are effective from the front of a classroom—the perfect place to read about a very unusual kind of class.
The Tree in the Courtyard: Looking through Anne Frank’s Window. By Jeff Gottesfeld. Illus. by Peter McCarty. 40p. Knopf, $17.99 (9780385753975). Gr. 1–3.
With subtlety, Gottesfeld tells Anne Frank’s story from the perspective of the glorious horse chestnut tree that grew outside of the annex attic where her family and others were hidden. The poignancy of the parallels between Anne and the tree becomes evident when readers realize that young Anne dies before help arrives, and though many make tremendous efforts to rescue the 172-year-old tree, it still succumbs to its age. Yet Anne and the tree live on as explained in the author’s note: Anne through her writing; the tree through its saplings. McCarty’s soft, sepia-toned illustrations convey a somber but warm sensitivity, and the unique point of view ensures the tale remains appropriate for the youngest of students. This deeply affecting take on Anne Frank’s iconic story won’t be easily forgotten.
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon. By Torben Kuhlmann. Illus. by the author. Tr. by David Henry Wilson. 128p. North-South, $19.95 (9780735842625). Gr. 1–4.
Kuhlmann is no stranger to animal inventors (Moletown, 2015) or mice with a penchant for flight (Lindbergh, 2014), and his newest illustrated tale dovetails the themes with a stargazing mouse who shoots for the moon. One evening, this mouse announces that the moon is made of stone and not cheese, but his fellow mice dismiss the idea. When a letter arrives confirming his lunar declaration and inviting him to the Smithsonian, the mouse journeys to the museum and becomes inspired to design his own flying machine and travel to the moon. Kuhlmann intermixes beautiful wordless spreads and paragraphs of text as the mouse studies, sketches, builds, and ultimately takes to the skies. The story is rich with adventure and the spirit of discovery, and a history of space travel concludes.
The Big Book of Bugs. By Yuval Zommer. Illus. by the author. 64p. Thames & Hudson, $19.95 (9780500650677). K–Gr. 3. 595.7.
The title for this book is quite appropriate, considering that its oversize format is crawling with information on more than 25 types of bugs. Two introductory sections offer information for bug spotters and show a bug family tree, which differentiates between insects, spiders, centipedes and millipedes, slugs and snails, and worms. Individual bug groups are shown on beautifully illustrated double-page spreads buzzing with activity and awash with watercolor hues. Each spread includes four to five facts and a question that encourages readers to look closely at the pictures and identify a particular bug in the scene. Answers to these “Can You Find . . .” questions follow, along with scientific vocabulary. Zommer’s detailed illustrations and the seek-and-find feature will keep young readers enrapt as they absorb entomological basics from the approachable, fact-rich text.
Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science. By Jeannine Atkins. 208p. Atheneum, $16.99 (9781481465656). Gr. 4–7.
This three-part novel in verse vividly imagines the lives of three girls who grew up to become famous for their achievements in science. “Mud, Moths, and Mystery” opens in Germany in 1660 with Maria Merian as a girl, closely observing insect metamorphosis and pursuing an interest in nature throughout her life. “Secrets in Stones” tells of young Mary Anning, who in the early 1800s began collecting fossils from cliffs near her home in England, eventually contributing to paleontology at a pivotal time. “Mapmaker’s Daughter” begins in 1831 with Maria Mitchell stargazing through her father’s telescope on Nantucket. Later, she discovered a comet and became a college astronomy professor. Science is woven through the narratives, but within the fabric of the characters’ daily lives and struggles, and each is original, educational, and memorable.
Gorillas Up Close. By Christena Nippert-Eng. 176p. Holt, $19.99 (9781627790918). Gr. 5–8. 599.884.
Sociology professor Nippert-Eng shares her observations of gorillas by introducing individuals and discussing how they interact with each other within two groups: a family troop and a bachelor troop living at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. She offers a good deal of information about the animals, beginning with facts such as their physical features, diets, and life spans, but also discusses the social structures within their troops. In addition, she notes how the lives of captive gorillas differ from those in the wild and how zoo staffs try to compensate for those differences through the thoughtful design of habitats as well as creative daily practices. Throughout the book, many excellent color photos illustrate the engaging text, and the well-captioned portraits of the individuals discussed are particularly fine. A fascinating, eye-opening introduction to gorillas.
NanoBots. By Chris Gall. Illus. by the author. 40p. Little, Brown, $16.99 (9780316375528). K–Gr. 2.
Gall delves into microscopic realms, where industrious crews of tiny robots, produced by a proud young basement inventor, are fanning out to clean up messes, gather knowledge, protect, build, and repair. Each bulbous, anthropomorphic NanoBot has a specialized task: SeekerBots explore a drop of water; Lady Lance-o-Bot wields a light saber against insect “dragons” in the garden; ChewBots clamber over carpet fibers; and Nano-NanoBots are the “best construction workers in the universe,” able to “build a car made from water and a house made from air.” Carted off to a science fair, the tiny Bots all feel “pretty small” next to the other exhibits, but they get a chance to shine when the giant robot in the next booth over starts to fall apart. A high-interest way for teachers to bring not-so-farfetched robot-based concepts into an otherwise unassuming classroom.
Plants Can’t Sit Still. By Rebecca E. Hirsch. Illus. by Mia Posada. 32p. Lerner/Millbrook, $19.99 (9781467780315). K–Gr. 3. 580.
Though plants seem rooted in one place, that doesn’t mean they’re not in motion. Seedlings push through the soil, some leaves shrink when they sense vibrations, and seeds can be long-distance travelers. With a doctorate in biology, Hirsch understands her subject and uses well-chosen words to make it fun and memorable for children. Though some may be content with the main text alone, others will be fascinated by appended descriptions of a squirting cucumber shooting its seeds, or a raspberry seed riding through a bear’s digestive system. Posada’s impressive artwork, created with cut-paper collage and watercolors, illustrates the ideas clearly while creating varied effects with colors and textures. Back matter fully supports the picture-book text with additional information on each of the plants featured, but not named, in the main section.
Samira and the Skeletons. By Camilla Kuhn. Illus. by the author. 34p. Eerdmans, $16 (9780802854636). K–Gr. 3.
For Samira, learning about skeletons proves to be downright mortifying. Samira insists that she couldn’t possibly have anything so terrible inside of her. But after her teacher confirms the awful truth, suddenly Samira can’t help but visualize being surrounded by skulls, ribs, and spines. But when Mom starts pulling out her bone-extraction tools, Samira decides she might need to give her skeleton another chance. This Norwegian import is icky and unsettling, even while being a guffaw-inducing exploration of the human body, complete with comically exaggerated anatomical drawings of what lurks beneath our skin. Kuhn adds a subtle teaching moment: by presenting Samira with dark skin and her best friend with lighter skin, and then showing both of their skeletons (and later, somewhat horrifyingly, muscles), Kuhn highlights how much we are the same underneath.
Tiny Stitches: The Life of Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas. By Gwendolyn Hooks. Illus. by Colin Bootman. 32p. Lee & Low, $17.95 (9781620141564). Gr. 3–6. 617.4.
Vivien Thomas (1910–85) combined imagination, skilled dexterity, and hard-won medical knowledge to develop tools and techniques for successful open-heart surgery on babies. His life and work are vivid in the pages of this picture-book biography. In addition to the challenges facing any medical researcher, Thomas also endured such obstacles as the economic devastation of the Great Depression, unequal treatment as a black research assistant, the challenge of finding housing in the Jim Crow South, and the failure to be recognized for his monumental contributions to the field of neonatal heart surgery. Beyond the crucial message of perseverance and the spotlight on still-prevalent prejudiced attitudes, this middle-grade picture book illuminates the life of a lesser-known man whose innovations continue to be essential to modern medicine.
The Tragic Tale of the Great Auk. By Jan Thornhill. Illus. by the author. 44p. Groundwood, $18.95 (9781554988655). Gr. 2–5. 598.3.
The last great auk was killed in the nineteenth century, but the bulky, flightless bird is far from forgotten. Thornhill begins by describing the features of the great auk that made it particularly susceptible to human predation. Since it evolved facing few land-borne predators, its stubby wings, nearly useless feet, and habit of laying eggs one at a time on bare rock were never much of a problem until humans arrived on the scene. In articulate, engaging, and even occasionally suspenseful prose, Thornhill explains the reasons the great auk is no more, gracefully combining elements of evolution, ecology, human technological advancement, and cultural trends while planting startling tidbits of information. This vivid, fascinating story emphasizes not only the importance of conservation but also how deeply intertwined the human and animal worlds can be.
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