Book Review: Moto and Me

51TGyqDRWIL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I knew Suzi Eszterhas‘s photos shine. I’d seen many of them. So when I picked up Moto and Me (Owlkids Books), I expected to love them. What I didn’t expect, is for her voice to shine just as brightly…and it does.





During the day, lots of animals wandered in and out of camp: hippos, hyenas, and even a friendly bull elephant.  …But the most exciting animal encounter I had was with a tiny, helpless wildcat named Moto…

Moto’s family lived on the Masai Mara’s savanna, which in like a sea of grass.

Suzi begins with how she came to Africa as a photographer, and became a foster mom for an orphaned baby serval. She is careful to explain that Moto was never meant to be a pet, and had to be taught the skills to live in the wild. She chronicles, in words and pictures, that journey. Back matter includes a page of serval facts.

This book has wow-power, and though it is not a 5-minute read, could be read in its entirety to older students, or used in classes in sections over the course of a couple days. Sections could also be chosen to stand-alone. A definite pick for zoos, organizations that foster wildlife, and those who are promoting the “keep wildlife wild” message.

Ages: 7-10      9781771472425-MotoandMe_zoom

Grades 1-5

40 pages







Once Upon an Elephant Wins the #CCBA17

The winners of the 2017 Children’s Choice Book Awards were announced on Wednesday, May 31st. Among them, Once Upon an Elephant took the 3rd-4th grade category, being named “Book of the Year”. Of course illustrator Shennen Bersani and I are thrilled! I have been able to take this book into schools and personally share it’s conservation message (the importance of these animals as keystone species) with 20,000 students in the 1+ years it’s been out. What does this award mean in terms for further reach? Frankly, I have no idea. I know this book will find its way into more libraries and schools. Perhaps it will be used in more zoos’ education departments. Right now, one AZA zoo is looking to take 300 copies into elephant range country to give to schools there (more on that coming soon). It will be interesting to see where the next year leads this little book, now with a national award attached to its name. And like a proud mama, I’ll keep you posted!


Book Review: Moon Bear

9780805089776Moon Bear (Henry Holt, 2010) written by Brenda Z. Guiberson and illustrated by Ed Young has a short, simple text, perfect for young listeners. It follows a year in the life of a Moon Bear in the simplest, most basic (and lovely) way. Caldecott award-winning Ed Young is one of the most brilliant illustrators of our time, and while his collage illustrations are gorgeous and creative, some young ones will need help understanding the images on a couple of the pages. Luckily, there is back matter that provides photos of Moon Bears. Also in the back matter is an author’s note which includes a discussion of animal sanctuaries for Moon Bears and a “you can help” section. A nice selection for anyone teaching about animal sanctuaries, bears of any sort, life cycles, hibernation,  and Asian animals.


Book Review: Been There Done That: Reading Animal Signs

In keeping with the current theme of my month, (which is school author visits with friend and college, Jen Funk Weber, most days this month) I am reviewing Jen’s book, Been There, Done That: Reading Animal Signs (Arbordale, 2016). 61-+hU9EitL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Jen is a world traveler, having visited a Japan, Africa, Greece, Italy, the Galapagos Islands, and more. However this book focuses on the animals that live right outside her back door, in Alaska. In this book, two children hike in Alaska, looking for wildlife. But wildlife is stealthy, and is often there watching us, even when we don’t see them. Instead, the kids see signs that the animals have been there, have done that. A twist ending, leaves this a very memorable book!

Andrea Gabriel’s beautiful water colors  illustrate the walk, as Helena, the Alaska-living character in the book explains the signs she sees to her friend and visitor, Cole. Through the book, readers get a glimpse into the lives of snowshoe rabbits, salmon, eagles, beavers, moose and bear.  As with all Arbordale books, there are interesting activities in the back matter to further  the learning experience, and a free online teacher’s guide found here.snowshoe-hares-580w

This book would be a wonderful addition to programs dealing with North American animals, or a program that promotes hiking, getting outdoors, or forest therapy (a concept that intrigues me!)