Grade 3–6—Haas has culled from his experiences as a wildlife photographer for National Geographic and selected various vignettes about encounters with leopards, elephants, wild dogs, lions, hyenas, hippos, rhinos, and cheetahs. There are moments of drama and tension, awe and sadness in the first-person narratives. The author makes it clear that predators need to eat animals to survive, and he is obviously aware of his young audience. Although a buffalo herd kills a lion cub, the chapter ends with the information that its two siblings have survived and are safely rejoined with their mother. The writing is strong enough to stand on its own, but the photos steal the show. Close-ups allow youngsters to see the shadows in the eyes of a lion, a string of saliva in the mouth of a hyena, and a single purple dragonfly resting over the eye of a crocodile. Whether they are blurred to emphasize an animal's speed or sharp enough to count the whiskers on a mother cheetah, each photo or montage is a narrative on its own. On nearly every spread, a sidebar gives information about the species, and an insert at the beginning of the book describes the photographer's typical workday, hour by hour. Haas refers to the animals as "critters," generally considered a regional or slang term for "creatures," which may be jarring to some readers at first but will quickly be forgotten as the stories unfold. Each of the seven chapters would work as a read-aloud for an individual or group. Together they paint a fascinating picture of the work of a wildlife photographer.—Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA
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*Starred Review* A deadly hunter, the leopard is also a loving parent to its newborn cubs, and Haas shows both roles in his beautiful photo-essay about African wildlife, which features pictures he took over several years in southern African game reserves. The brief, chatty text and the unframed pictures catch the harsh reality of the animals’ life-and-death struggle: “No good guys, no bad guys; it’s about survival.” Haas’ writing is needlessly exclamatory; the zoology and the photos are astonishing enough all by themselves. There’s the poignant picture of a mother hyena carrying her cubs to a den, with the accompanying explanation that the cubs were later killed by a lion. Then there’s the shot of an angry bull elephant. Is the beast protecting a tiny new baby? What about the huge hippo, charging with its mouth wide open, or “Itty Bitty Critters,” such as the dung beetle? Each of the chapters, some of which are 10 pages long, provides fascinating details about animal behavior, and numerous boxed notes fill in more facts about numbers and anatomy. A final spread summarizes the “critters” profiled, from antelope to zebra. Even with all the glossy animal books already crowding the shelves, this book is a must-purchase; students and teachers will find it an exceptionally strong combination of action, information, and conservation. Proceeds go to the Humane Society of the United States. Grades 3-5. --Hazel RochmanSee all Editorial Reviews
Very impressed - photos are absolutely beautiful. Great book for a child to life and love African beauty! Well done!Published 24 months ago by Anne
I bought this book for my son and he loves it so much. The pictures are so colorful and vivid its like you are right next to the animal. Read morePublished on December 29, 2011 by Sasha Jade