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: Buffalo Music

Buffalo Music (Clarion Books, 2008) by Tracey E. Fern and illustrated by Lauren Castillo, is a beautiful book based on the life of conservationist61Pp180ElVL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_ Mary Ann Goodnight, who is credited with creating the first captive buffalo herd in the 1800s when numbers of buffalo had plummeted. Goodnight eventually used her herd to re-populate Yellowstone National Park. Tracey’s story is told in folksy voice, and Lauren’s loose, child-friendly illustrations draw the reader in. An author’s note at the end gives further information about Molly Ann Goodnight, as well as a suggested reading list for more information on the American Bison.

This book is a great pick for those teaching about North American animals, endangered species, over-hunting, and bringing species back from the brink. The length of the text makes if more appropriate for mid to upper elementary kids. Preschoolers would likely have a difficult time sitting still for this one. Still, a great pick!

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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!)

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.