Animal Sanctuaries to the Rescue! | SLJ Spotlight

Four new titles encourage conservationism and animal research for the elementary set.
Books about animals are a perennial favorite among children—and are a perfect springboard for deeper conversations on climate change, conservation, careers in science, and the moral and ethical responsibilities humans have to their furry friends. The titles below provide excellent opportunities to engage students in learning about caring for creatures and the environment.

Einhorn, Kama. Sweet Senior Pups. photos by Virgil Ocampo. 144p. (True Tales of Rescue). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. websites. HMH. Nov. 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781328767035. POP

Gr 2-5–Narrated by Mino, a 15-year-old blind Pomeranian that lives at the Senior Dog Sanctuary of Maryland, this title is a love poem to senior dogs and the animal sanctuaries that care for them. Mino shares his history as a lost and then rescued dog, explains how senior dogs are “sugarfaces” (their white muzzles look like they are dipped in sugar), and life at the shelter. Mino’s roommates—Buffy, a 12-year-old miniature pinscher and Jack, a 14-year-old poodle—act as co-storytellers and each are given their own chapter. Mino carefully explains how to care for, feed, and love older dogs; the tone is a bit sentimental but there are enough realistic details included to pique more inquisitive readers. The text covers forever homes and even death in a entry called “Rainbow Bridge.” Volunteers at the sanctuary as well as adoptive families are featured with lots of personal stories and photos. While much of this title might seem a little precious, the book incorporates a lot of salient information regarding animal health care, including food and toy suggestions as well as how to support local shelters. VERDICT Dog lovers (maybe even cat ­lovers) will enjoy this entry in the series.Susan ­Lissim, Dwight School, New York City

Einhorn, Kama. Welcome, Wombat. photos by Phil Melzer, Donna Stepan, & Jacky Ling. 160p. (True Tales of Rescue). bibliog. further reading. glossary. index. websites. HMH. Nov. 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781328767028. POP

Gr 2-5–This nonfiction work is framed as a book of advice for a young arrival at Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary from one of the older residents. Chance, the voice of experience, explains why the sanctuary is necessary and how the wombats are slowly prepared to return to the wild and live on their own. Along the way, he shares plentiful information about wombats, their stages of development, and human impact on their habitats. Chance’s audience is an infant wombat, and the wording is simple and direct, making it perfect for elementary-age readers. The book is also packed with color photos of various wombats from the sanctuary and sidebars on topics like “Burrow Basics” and “Wombat Combat.” Back matter includes a letter from the author, ideas for how to help wombats, and even a quick guide on “How To Speak Aussie.” After all, readers may need to know that “chucking a tanty” means throwing a tantrum. The combination of captivating photos and the humorous narration make the material very approachable and entertaining, even as it informs. VERDICT Perfect for middle grade fans of narrative or creative nonfiction, those researching marsupials, and readers interested in animal sanctuaries and rescue efforts.–Suzanne Costner, Fairview ­Elementary School, Maryville, TN

Ho, Minfong. An Eagle’s Feather. illus. by Frances Alvarez. 36p. photos. Cornell Lab. Apr. 2018. Tr $15.95. ISBN 9781943645237.

K-Gr 3–Kalayaan is a Great Philippine Eagle searching for food in the Tambala forest when he is shot by a hunter but saved by a kind passersby who takes him to the Philippine Eagle Foundation. Ho’s succinct writing reveals that Kalayaan meets another eagle named Pinpin, who has only flown in captivity, but dreams about soaring in the forest. Alvarez’s whimsical yet detailed watercolor illustrations show that although humans hunt, they can also protect eagles, like Kalayaan and Pinpin, and help them survive in the wild or in captivity. The story tells readers of the species’ past, present, and possible future: “there was a time people thought of us as kings of the sky, because we were the strongest birds in the whole of the Philippines.” This picture book combines a hopeful story line with information segments that include photographs and QR codes. Future conservationists will enjoy Ho’s vibrant tale and that a portion of the proceeds go towards the Philippine Eagle Foundation. VERDICT A gentle tale for young readers, especially those with an interest in birds.–Hilary Tufo, Columbus ­Metropolitan Library-Reynoldsburg

Peterson, Brenda. Lobos: A Wolf Family Returns to the Wild. photos by Annie Marie Musselman. 32p. chron. maps. photos. websites. Little Bigfoot. Aug. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781632170842.

K-Gr 3–This title chronicles the journey of a family of endangered lobos, aka Mexican gray wolves, from the birth of a new litter to the family’s release into the wild. The story begins with the pups’ births at Wolf Haven International, a sanctuary in Washington state. Peterson provides a bit of background on the sanctuary’s mission to rescue and rehabilitate lobos so they can once again thrive in Mexico and the U.S. southwest. Though readers learn about the many challenges for survival Mexican gray wolves face, the narrative is gentle and includes moments of joy. (“The pups romp and run with Father Wolf, who teaches his pups how to howl together. Haunting harmonies. Wolf music!”) Musselman’s large clear photographs capture this energetic family up close. The book is well designed and would work well as a group read. Back matter includes additional information and a map titled, “Historic Range of the Mexican Gray Wolf.” A time line of the wolf family featured in this title is also available. A small critique of the text is that it does not fully explain why it is important to protect endangered species; however, most kids will be inspired to learn more after reading. VERDICT A fine addition to nonfiction collections and classroom ­libraries.–Robin Sofge, Prince William ­Public Library System, VA

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