Book Review: Painted Dog Pursuit

51hdDTxJniL._SY407_BO1,204,203,200_Tammy Cloutier’s debut picture book, Painted Dog Pursuit tells the story of Kane, a painted dog living with his pack in Africa. When Kane goes for a hunt with his pack, we are introduced to elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, and lions. Thomas Block’s richly-colored, realistic illustrations pair nicely with Tammy’s short, informative text.

Kane is separated from his pack and must find his way back to them, a theme all children will connect with. And while he does indeed reunite with his family, children will be disappointed that the hunters return to the rest of the pack without food, creating a teachable moment for interpreters who want to build understanding and empathy for predators. A “Did you know?” section on the final page gives five additional fun facts about painted dogs. Tammy hopes to have additional teaching resources on her website in time.

Tammy has worked in AZA facilities (including The Wilds, in Ohio), and is currently pursuing a PhD with a focus on painted dog conservation–her passion. She is generously–an understatement!–donating 100% of the book’s proceeds to painted dog conservation.

This is a must-have book for zoos who teach about the importance and struggles of predators in any habitat, those who teach about African habitats, and of course those who focus on the painted dog.

Painted Dog Pursuit is currently available on Amazon, but if you want a signed copy, you can purchase those by contacting Tammy at the link provided above. And, as the last page promises that Kane’s story is “to be continued,” we’ll be watching for Tammy’s next book too!kane.jpg



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







Book Review: Once Upon an Elephant

Sometimes a person has a great idea, and sometimes not. Beginning a blog at the end of April? What was I thinking?

Each year, I spend most of May in schools doing author visits, where I teach on literacy, science, and conservation topics. I hope I can keep up with this blog during this busy time! Since we’re all new here, I figured it would make sense to begin with my current book, Once Upon an Elephant, but I promise that the vast majority of books I share here will be other authors’ books.6a00d8345407c169e201b7c871404a970b-320wi

Once Upon an Elephant came as a direct inspiration from the work I did for the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium writing their book, Beco’s Big Year: A Baby Elephant Turns One. While working on Beco, I learned about keystone species. To find out more about how one book led to another, here’s the four-minute video I did to share my story.

Once Upon an Elephant, (Arbordale Publishing, 2016) shows kids how elephants are keystones due to their following actions: digging for water and minerals, maintaining both savanna and forests, creating firebreaks, and even by creating footprints that catch water, forming small pools. To help teachers share the topic further, Arbordale not only has further information and teaching activities in the back of their books, but they also produce free online teaching materials, found here.

Once Upon an Elephant is a finalist in the International Reading Association‘s Children’s Choice Book Awards, as well as Pennsylvania’s Keystone to Reading Book Award. It’s also a recommended book by the National Science Teacher’s Association.