They say not to judge a book by its cover but in the case of Can We Save the Tiger you absolutely can. This beautifully illustrated book that introduces the concept of wildlife conservation to children is every bit as good as its cover suggests.
In lively, conversational writing author and conservationist Martin Jenkins explains the role that humans have played in wiping out species such as the Dodo and Steller’s sea cow, and how we continue to threaten the survival of many other species too. The book explores some of the more ‘special’ animals, and as Martin Jenkins supposes, ‘I’m sure you’ll all agree that tigers are pretty special’.
I’m sure you’ll agree that Vicky White’s powerful illustrations are pretty special too. Each of the book’s oversized pages is a visual wonder worthy of framing and guaranteed to impress a child (and adult) of any age. Key words and phrases are highlighted using a variety of typefaces and font sizes, making the text fun and easy for kids to read and explore on their own.
My 7-year-old particularly enjoys the facts listed under the animal portraits including where in the world the animals are found, how they became extinct or how they are threatened, their lifespan (who knew the Kakapo, a bird in New Zealand, live as long as people do?) and how many are thought to be left in the world. In the case of the Kakapo the last count was only 124. When I asked my daughter to imagine what it would be like if there were only 124 humans left in the world (the equivalent of 6 classes of school kids) her eyes almost popped out.
She also screamed (she can be quite dramatic) when she saw a little drawing of the Golden Arrow Poison Frog as it was only a few months ago when she saw one of these herself in Panama. That encounter suddenly took on a whole new meaning for her.
I also like how the book ends on a positive note by celebrating examples of how humans have successfully saved animals from the brink of extinction. Take the (Southern) white rhinoceros for example. At the end of the 19th century there were only 20 of them left in the world. Twenty! (Gasp! There are only 20 children in my class, mummy!). Yet nowadays there are thought to be around 17,500. That is quite some turnaround.
The ultimate message is not to give up. As Jenkins summarises, ‘if we stop trying, the chances are that pretty soon we’ll end up with a world where there are no tigers or elephants, or sawfishes or whooping cranes, or albatrosses or ground iguanas. Or … I could go on and on. And I think that would be a shame, don’t you?’
Can We Save the Tiger?
Book: Can We Save the Tiger? By Martin Jenkins. Illustrated by Vicky White. Published by Walker Books.
Best for: Age: 5-10 (but it’s a book that any age will appreciate)
Themes: Wildlife Conservation, Endangered Animals, Extinction.
Summary: Exploring some of the world’s endangered species – why they are on the brink of extinction and what we can do to save them.
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