Monday, May 8, 2017

Passel of animal books

Well, another academic school year is over. With exams finished up last week, we’re officially in ‘summer mode’ for the next 4 months. Fewer students around means it’s catch-up time here in the Doucette Library.

So I’m getting caught up with reading a backlog of picture books. I’ve read a fair number of animal books recently and I thought I’d give a few recommendations for the ones I liked best.

Starting with--

Not many Europeans knew what a rhinoceros looked like in the 1700s but Clara, an orphaned baby rhino changed that for many people. Brought from India by a Dutch sea captain to Europe, they traveled for 17 years to Holland, France, Italy, England and Germany entertaining people from all walks of life. I see this book as a great discussion starter and for research, too. How were animals treated in the past? What parts of Clara’s story have been ‘tinkered’ with? How much food does a rhino really need? There are lots of possibilities.

I love stories where animals, in dire straits, are given new leases on life such as described in this book.  We learn about three elephants from the Toronto Zoo who are moved to California to take up residence in a sanctuary. It’s quite a feat of organization and transportation to get Toka, Iringa and Thika to their new home and how they adjusted to a life outside a small, cold zoo enclosure.  I recommend this for elementary grades.

Turtles are endlessly fascinating creatures faced with a myriad of challenges for survival. One such challenge is getting to the ocean from their beach-sand nests. Along beaches where there has been significant development, lights from homes and hotels often mislead the baby turtles in the wrong direction, away from the ocean. This story focuses on the efforts of a young girl to save these turtles by having the people living along the beaches turn off their bright lights when the turtles are hatching. This has a great combination of science and social activism for upper elementary grades.

This one introduces us to the topic of bioluminescence featuring mostly deep ocean creatures. The photos are pretty amazing. Elementary students will likely find this one quite appealing.

Otters Love to Play by Jonathan London
There is something very appealing about otters – cute faces, lanky, bendy bodies and their playful behavior are irresistible.  Great book for early elementary grades about otter’s habitat and seasonal changes in behavior. Illustrations really give a good sense of their playful natures and body movements.

And, lastly—

This now extinct bird had at one time numbered in the hundreds of thousands in the North Atlantic. Outlined here are the conditions that came together over a period of time that contributed to the bird’s demise: namely the bird’s inability to fly, the northern waters they inhabited for cold water fish and few viable spots for laying and hatching eggs, climate change and human hunting (for food and collectability once it became rare). The author lays out the interconnectedness of these conditions, the impact of the birds on local peoples and their legacy. I highly recommend this for middle grades.


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