Written by Martin Jenkins, illustrated by Vicky White
Published by Walker Books Ltd, 2011
Ages: 5 and up
Themes: animals, conservation, extinction,
Opening/Synopsis: “The world is quite a big place, you know. But it’s not that big, when you consider how much there is to squeeze into it. ……. Us humans have changed the world a lot over the years, to make room for ourselves and to produce the things we need…… Some of the other animals and plants that we share the Earth with have coped with the changes very well. But some haven’t.”
Martin Jenkins, a conservation biologist, accompanies us around the world on a 56 page journey of phenomenal fauna. From animals we will never see again, such as the Stellar’s Sea Cow (last ween in 1768) and the Broad-faced Potoroo (last seen in 1875) to some of the present day animals struggling for survival, such as the Ground Iguanas of the West Indies or the White Rumped Vultureof SE Asia. He explains many of the complexities of the threats: of how introducing a non indigenous animal influences indigenous flora and fauna, how modern farming techniques may help feed humans, but can destroy animals.
He speaks of success stories, such as the bison populations of North America, and species on the brink of extinction like the Kakapo bird of New Zealand.
He writes in detail but with clarity and passion on behalf of our co-planet dwellers. Every single page of this large, long picture book contains incredible pencil drawings, with occasional color, of these magnificent species. The book is worth the artwork alone. Vicky White, the illustrator, worked as a zookeeper for many years before doing an MA in natural history illustration from London’s Royal College of Art.
Why I like this book: This book will fascinate and inspire children. A clear case is presented for the fate of all these species lying in our hands. While much good has been done, so much still remains to fight for and our children can participate in this preservation of the gracious beauty we have all around us. I would love to have some of this art work on my walls, it is truly exquisite. Tigers, seals, parrots, rhinoceros peer at you from the pages, inviting you to become involved. This is a book of balance; of sadness and progress of failure and hope. It presents the call for our involvement to conserve our world as a call to compassion and action for the 17,000 animals and plants presently in danger. This is a book I would recommend for every school library for the inevitable classes on endangered species. I think it gives one of the most articulate overviews out there.
Other great resources mentioned at the back of the book are: