by Margarita Engle
208 pages; ages 10 & up
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2017
Edver isn't happy about being shipped off to Cuba to see the father he barely knows. He definitely isn't expecting to meet a sister he didn't know existed! And he most certainly didn't plan to capture a wildlife poacher.
But what we, the readers don't expect, is to be completely immersed in a Cuban jungle. In the first twelve pages, Margarita Engle introduces us to bee-sized hummingbirds, condors, zombie cockroaches, and the seemingly opposing forces of survival and conservation on a small island. And she does all this in poetry.
A couple years ago I reviewed Engle's picture book about Louis Fuertes who, like Audubon, painted birds from life.
by Jacqueline Kelly
112 pages; ages 7-10
Henry Holt & Co, 2017
If you have a girl who wants to be a veterinarian- or who just loves wild animals - get this book into her hands. Eleven-year-old Calpurnia Tate - yes, the very same Calpurnia from The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate - explores the natural world around her Texas home. She learns about wildlife right in her backyard (or, in this case, a neighboring farmer's field) and helps the veterinarian mend their injuries. What's cool is that the book is set at the turn of the 20th century - the beginning of the 1900s - when veterinarians focused on livestock.
What I like about this book: Kelly's attention to details: mockingbird songs, what happens to a wet owl - those sorts of things. I also like the illustrations of Calpurnia's field notebook, and her "strong girl" attitude. She's not afraid to help an injured owl, even though it means catching mice for its meals. And she helps solve the mystery of what made the owl sick. A hint: it has to do with food chains.
Shannon Messenger's blog, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copies provided by publisher.