Review By JENNIFER GANNETT
Animal Watch covers a variety of subjects facing all animals—human and non-human—on our planet. The book is broken up into three main sections: Habitats at Risk, Hunting and Trade and Back From the Brink. Within each heading are timely and instructive sections that do an excellent job of presenting sophisticated facts and figures in turn.
This book packs a lot of information into each section and consequently numerous spreads come off looking busy and disorganized at first glance. However, each section of text is a short paragraph, interspersed with excellent photographs, graphics such as maps, action opportunities and some experiments. All of the information presented is of pressing importance but many kids may be most interested in some of the day-in-the-life interviews and job descriptions (there are interviews with a wildlife vet, customs officer, zookeeper, koala rescuer, wetlands manager).
Animal Watch doesn’t shy away from presenting some unpleasant truths and is not for very young children. For example, one section contains a photograph of an annual pilot whale hunt showing boats floating in a sea turned red with whale blood juxtaposed with a dead duiker slung over a hunter’s back. There is a section entitled “Zoo Debate” which is more of a brief overview of why original concepts of zoos were bad and how conditions have generally improved today, with the reintroduction of the California condor and the Przewalski’s horse used to illustrate captive animal conservation “success stories.” Throughout the book, there are small bits of commentary from children across the globe as they reveal ways that they are trying to make the world a better place for animals (including a young PETA activist).
For children who are interested in seeing how global studies, animal issues and humanitarian concerns intersect, this book is a great starting point to provide the basis for more in depth learning. The resource section at the back provides a select list of NGOs and governmental agencies so that they, and we, can do just that. I recommend this for ages 9 and up.