Nov 25, 2013

Kate and Pippin

Kate and Pippin (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Martin Springett

Photography by: Isobel Springett

Published by: Puffin Canada
Puffin Canada
Puffin Canada

Published on: February 28, 2012

Ages: 3+

This story of an unlikely animal friendship is all about the awww factor. Maybe make that awwwwww.

Kate, a puppyless Great Dane, bonds with a motherless fawn at photographer Isobel Springett's property. Could Bambi have been more adorable? The Springetts improve on the classic Disney movie by virtue of this being a true story.

Martin Springett is a musician, and this shows through his simple but memorable prose. The photographs are so endearing that the text doesn't need to add much, but the story of the baby deer adopted by Isobel Springett and her canine companion is easy to follow even for emerging readers.

There are so many threads pulled together in this picture book- friendship, family, adoption, animal life cycles, and even the relationship between humans and the nature that surrounds them. Springett lives on the edge of a forest, but because of its location on a temperate island in the Pacific, it is vastly different from the forests near our home in Japan, as well as the Alberta forests I grew up with. Pippin the fawn looks like a Japanese spotted deer though, rather than the blacktailed deer I would have expected! To my completely untrained eye anyway!

This book will appeal to emerging readers who love animals, as well as the sappy types who fall for heartwarming stories (I'm the sucker in the latter category).

 This post is for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by Jennifer at The Jean Little Library.

Nov 3, 2013

Dolphins of Shark Bay

Dolphins of Shark Bay (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Pamela S. Turner

Photographs by: Scott Tuason

Published by: HMH Books for Young Readers 

Published on: November 5, 2013

Ages: 10+

Provided by the author. All opinions expressed are my own.

Yesterday we visited central Asia with a friendly dog, and today we are visiting the oceans surrounding Australia with some very bright cetaceans and the people who study them.

This is an absolutely brilliant book about some bottlenose dolphins, the respectful and knowledgeable crew of the Pomboo, and about what we know about animal families and cultures. We learn that these sponging dolphins learned their tool craft from the generations before them. We learn to analyze these behaviours and compare them to other animal families, like primates, both human and non-human, just like an anthropologist does.

Turner writes a compelling story with a fascinating cast of characters. From dolphins like Reggae who hunt beaches to non-sponging Guppy, they are all fascinating on their own. But it is their relationships with each other that will give young readers the biggest thrill. It's like an underwater episode of Degrassi High. Who dates whom? Who is friends with whom? Who copies whose behaviour? Who is whose rival for a popular dolphin's affection? It's all endearingly complex.

This is an ideal book for budding anthropologists or marine biologists to pick up. But more than that, it would appeal to surfers or fans of Sweet Valley High-esque books willing to branch out to nonfiction. The book has wide appeal. We loved it.

 This post is for Nonfiction Monday, hosted this week by Tammy at Apples with Many Seeds.

Black Flame

Black Flame (CAN, JP, US, INT)

Written by: Gerelchimeg Blackcrane

Translated by: Anna Holmwood

Published by: Groundwood Books

Published on: April 30, 2013

Ages: 11+

Provided by the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

Is it November already? Where did October go? I have been massively busy at work, and then went on a little crafty kick, making my own Halloween costume and then house painting. That means neglecting you, dear blog.

This book was the perfect one to get me back in the blogging game. It's a book about a massive but loving Tibetan mastiff who journeys across the mountains of Tibet, the open plains of Mongolia, and even the cities of China in search of a home.

A protagonist who cannot even speak - sounds like it could be boring premise. But it is just the opposite. Kelsang, the dog, provides such insight into both the high and low points of humanity. He sees the people who love, the people who just don't care, and the people who treat others (human and canine) badly with clear insight. Kelsang also provides love to those who love him back. You'll want to just bury your hands in his giant mane.

Despite being so close to China, Tibet, and Mongolia, I don't know as much about them as I should. This book whet my appetite and I would love to learn more. Maybe someday I'll stay in a ger in Mongolia and watch an adventurous mastiff like Kelsang wander by.