Saving Pandas, by Dr Carla Litchfield

Giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) are massive bears, just like black bears, polar bears and brown bears. They share the same habitat as red pandas, but are not closely related to them. Surprisingly little is known about the behaviour of giant pandas in the wild – except that they spend about 12 hours a day eating bamboo!

Saving Pandas is a new addition to the non fiction series of picture books from Black Dog Books. The books are large format paperbacks, with beautiful photos of animals and their habitats. Extra info bites extend the non fiction narrative and are displayed in different fonts. Words that might be unfamiliar are in bold and a glossary at the back gives their meaning. The final page also provides extra ‘panda facts’ and website addresses. Saving Pandas is full of photos of young and mature pandas. Red pandas might share the name and a similar habitat, but are not closely related to Giant pandas.

Giant pandas look cute and cuddly but with her opening words, Dr Litchfield reminds us that they are also enormous and well…they are bears! Few people would want to cuddle a big black bear, but there’s something about pandas that makes them seem cuddle-able. Despite the size. Despite the claws. This new series ‘Rare Earth’ from Black Dog Books looks at endangered animals and the programs in place to help them survive. Some readers may only respond to the cuteness of these giants, but for others, it’s an introduction to the world of animal conservation. Pitched for lower- to middle-primary aged readers, the language is simple but informative and perfect for lovers of animals and of non-fiction.

Saving Pandas (Rare Earth)

Saving Pandas (Rare Earth) Dr Carla Litchfield
Black Dog Books 2010
ISBN 9781742031149

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Chimpanzee Book, by Dr Carla Litchfield

Chimps are our closest animal relatives. They belong to the great ape family, along with humans, gorillas and orangutans. There are two species of chimps, called chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and bonobos (Pan paniscus). Genetically, chimps are more closely related to humans than they are to gorillas.

You only have to look closely at a chimpanzee face to see the similarities to man. But it’s not just in appearance. Chimpanzees have many other human-type characteristics and it seems that the more they are studied, the more similarities emerge. Chimps can use language, they use tools, have an extended childhood and display emotions. They are only found in the mid-section of the African continent. One of the two species, the bonobo is only found in a small part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Scientific researchers like Dr Jane Goodall have spent years studying the behaviour of chimps. Like other titles in this series there is a map showing distribution, and panels showing the size, habitat and predators of both species. These panels also include information about the scientists who have studied chimps.

Fantastic photos of animals (in this case chimps) against white backgrounds and in habitat are a feature of this series. Not everyone can get to Africa to see chimps in the wild and while zoos are wonderful, chimps don’t always sit still enough for a proper look. Here the reader can learn to recognise the differences between chimpanzees and bonobos and discover just how closely they are related. There is information about the scientific studies that continue to discover new aspects to chimp behaviour both in the wild and in captivity. For children who aspire to work with animals or the environment studies, there are demonstrations here as to where these interests can take them. Contents, index, glossary and further resources add to accessibility and possibility. The Chimpanzee Book: Apes Like Us is a landscape paperback and is sure to be a popular addition to any library or home collection. Recommended for lower primary and beyond.

The Chimpanzee Book: Apes Like Us

The Chimpanzee Book: Apes Like Us, Dr Carla Litchfield
Black Dog Books 2009
ISBN: 9781742030746

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author