From School Library Journal
Gr 5-10–In this addition to the series, readers join Pati Medici and her team in their quest to study tapirs in the world's largest wetland, the Pantanal Wetlands of Brazil. Although its appearance may lead some to suppose that the tapir falls somewhere near elephants or hippopotami in the family tree, this flexible-snouted, hoof-toed tropical creature is most closely related to rhinoceroses and horses. Medici has dubbed the tapir “the gardener of the forest” for its critical role in maintaining foliage by ingesting fruits and excreting the seeds elsewhere, but little else is known about this vanishing species. By observing and trapping the animals to outfit them with radio collars or microchips and collect samples including blood and ticks from infestations, Medici's team hopes to better understand their lifestyles to enhance conservation efforts. Although in-text pronunciation guides are included for some Portuguese names and select scientific terminology is explained, no glossary is provided, and many of the exotic birds discussed are not shown. Following each chapter are several pages of related information with text and photographs placed on top of a marbled background with shadows that can make the text difficult to read in some places. A list of several websites and YouTube videos is included, and the index differentiates between text and photographic references. Bishop's captivating photographs, paired with Montgomery's narrative, not only call attention to a lesser-known endangered species, but also expose readers to the working conditions, obstacles, and emotions experienced by passionate scientists in the field.–Meaghan Darling, Plainsboro Public Library, NJα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Where in the world are Montgomery and Bishop? The latest project of the award-winning dynamic duo takes the reader to Brazil’s Pantanal, the world’s largest wetlands, where field scientist Patricia Medici leads a talented team in search of the unsung tapir. Montgomery’s typically polished narrative and Bishop’s illuminating photography showcases the research group’s camaraderie, as well as their dedication to protecting tapirs by tagging and studying them in their natural habitats. Both the images and text highlight how the tight-knit team operates as a think tank when obstacles arise, such as the failure of a tranquilizing dart to adequately penetrate, and solutions must be found. Montgomery’s inclusion of the story of Benjamin, a British schoolboy who led a donation campaign, and Medici’s response—naming a tapir in his honor—serves to personalize the project and model what other young enthusiasts can do to help. This contribution to the Scientists in the Field series seamlessly blends eloquent text and vivid images to spotlight the gentle tapir and those field scientists whose lives are committed to conserve animal species for the sake of our environment and our humanity. Grades 5-8. --Gail Bush