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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Animals Allive, edited by Wendy Horobin. DK Publishing, Tourmaline Editions. 2011. $17.99 ages 6 and up

"Each habitat can support only a limited number of species and every species adapts itself to suit a particular role in that habitat. By eating different foods or making its home in a different place, a species can reduce the competition it faces from other animals, yet live side by side with them."

Here we get a chance to see animals as they have lived through the ages...what has happened to some of them and how do we prevent it from happening to others? It begins with an overview of the variety among animal species, and then moves to showing each of the animal groups and some of the animals within those groups that are in danger. The writers include a ranking system that show nine risk categories...these include near threatened, vulnerable, endangered, critically endangered, extinct in the wild and extinct. Three are minor categories.
In the introduction to each animal group, there is a description of the main characteristics, many wonderful photographs and a sampling of the animals under threat. There are symbols offering the reasons for the perceived threat under each text box. The main threats are: habitat loss, climate change, hunting, food supply, pollution, and disease.

Following this there are spreads that describe animals within the risk categories. In the two page spread that concerns sea otters we learn something about them, what the main threats to their existence are, about their population, size, weight, diet, habitat, lifespan and the range within which they live. It is extremely informative and often surprising:

"The sea otter's coat is incredibly thick - it has around one million hairs in every square inch of fur."

There is good news. Some species have been saved from extinction through a variety of measures...breeding programs, relocation, organizations , legal protection, and vaccination from disease. It takes a lot of effort on the part of concerned scientists and caring individuals.

Young readers are encouraged to become naturalists, to set up reserves, and to learn as much as they can about the animals of the world so that they will want to protect them always.

A glossary helps with unfamiliar language, and an index takes readers back to those pages they want to see again.

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