A new book by Martin Jenkins? Yes, please. How could I not bring this gorgeous book home from the library? I am so enjoying all the new-ish books I’ve found at one of the little city libraries in our area, and when I saw this beautifully illustrated animal title by one of our go-to authors for kids’ nonfiction, I added it to our stack without a thought.
Oh my goodness–this book is a feast for both the imagination and the eyes! Can We Save the Tiger? is a nice-sized picture book that is conversationally written. Here are the first lines:
The world’s quite a big place, you know. But it’s not that big, when you consider how much there is to squeeze into it.
This book stops short of being alarmist; instead, it provides a more-or-less balanced view of what has happened (and is still happening) to countless species of animals around the world. For example, tigers are categorized as animals that are disappearing because they’re big (therefore, they needs a lot of space), they’re beautiful (therefore, people hunt them for the skins, as well as their bones and meat), and they’re fierce (so they don’t get along well with humans). Other animals, like the partula snail, are categorized as ones whose numbers are reduced because of predators introduced by humans. Still others, like the white-rumped vulture, are categorized as ones that have been endangered accidentally through disease or the actions of humans. Jenkins ends the book on a positive note by recounting the stories of animals for whom people have made a difference. One example is the American bison, which was brought back from the brink of extinction both by ranchers who keep them like cattle and governments that have set up reserves. This book introduced us to several animals we’d never heard of before, and my girls were captivated by their stories up until the very end.
Another thing that makes this book unique and such a pleasure to look at are the various typefaces and fonts used throughout. Large-sized font, normal-sized fonts, boldface, handwritten fonts, italics–all of these serve to make this an eye-pleasing book. However, these all serve a function beyond making the book more beautiful; for example, the common names for the animals in the book are always “handwritten” in all capital letters, while the pages with only illustrations are identified with a statement in a “handwritten,” italic font giving information about the animals depicted. It all works together for a very pleasing effect.
Lastly and most importantly are the illustrations. Vicky White‘s pencil and oil paint illustrations are beautiful. Done in a combination of black & white and color, these illustrations are almost photographic in their attention to detail, but they also convey a warmth and respect for the animals that strengthens the message of the text.
Can We Save the Tiger? would make a wonderful addition to any study of animals or endangered species, as well as an excellent title for any animal-loving child. Highly Recomended. (Candlewick, 2011)
My reviews of other books by Martin Jenkins:
Nonfiction Monday is hosted by Books Together this week.