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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat's Foster Mom, by Suzi Eszterhas. Owlkids Books, 2017. $18.95 ages 6 and up

"If a noise frightened him or he lost sight of where I was, Moto would call out to me. His call sounded like a short, loud meow. I'd return his call by saying "Moto" and he would answer back. Calling back and forth is how serval mothers and their kittens communicate when they cannot see each other in the long savanna grass."

It is such fun to share the work that Suzi Eszterhas does to benefit and to show animals in our world. Her amazing photos and personal narratives entertain and inform her readers, while filling them with awe and wonder that she gets up so close to these wondrous creatures.

"As a child, I used to tell my mom that one day I would live in a tent in Africa. So it was a dream come true when I headed to the Masai Mara, a wildlife reserve in Kenya, to photograph animals."
Little did the author know a realized dream would have her fostering a wild serval kitten in that same tent! That is exactly what happens, and the job takes the better part of a year. Moto is irresistible as you will see when you leaf through the pages of this engaging account. Her description of their days and the learning that the tiny kitten did is quite the story. Throughout the time they spent together Moto gained the knowledge and skills he would need to live in the wild on his own.

All you really have to do is to take a close look at the front cover of the book, and you will fall in love with the tiny guy whose story is told here. The book's design has lasting impact and is beautifully arranged to show maps, clear images, the setting, and the relationship that developed between the two. Bottle-fed, surrounded by toys to keep him company and always feeling the warmth of a caring 'mother', Moto thrives. Through some trying times, the two stayed the course with Moto learning to find his own food. A lively series of photos shows exactly how Moto does it.

"Like all servals, Moto has very large, sensitive ears that are like radar dishes.
Servals can hear small prey hiding deep in the grass or even under the ground."

Four captioned pictures show Moto hear something in the grass, pounce in the exact spot where the sound emanates, play with the tiny mouse he finds there, and finally capture it to carry home. Kids will love it! When the fostering is complete, the two separate to lead their separate lives. Tough, but exactly what is meant to happen.

A table of contents is helpful, and will lead the audience back to a favorite topic. As well, Ms.Eszterhas adds a section at the end to provide additional facts about all servals. A winner!

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