If you're writing a book that appeals to children, what could be more captivating than the tale of a little lost animal? We recently read two wonderful environment-themed animal storybooks that courage, love, the importance of family and the ability to make a difference.
The Tiniest Tiger is about a lost kitten who enters a zoo and finds herself in the Big Cat section. She goes from wildcat to cat in looking for one who will become her new family. I loved how each cat -- lions, tigers, leopards, pumas and more -- enumerates the ways they are similar to and different from the kitten. It's quite a long book -- and I must say the long list of big cats made reading it almost tedious for me -- but the kids were so engrossed in the plight of the kitten that they had no difficulty sitting through the whole story. In fact, you could spend quite a bit of time on the book without even reading the text. Just leafing through the lovely illustrations of the wild cats (with animal facts cleverly drawn on the zoo signage) kept us busy.
Looking for Miza: The true story of the mountain gorilla family who rescued one of their own is a book about a baby who is separated from her family, her father, the silver-backed gorilla Kabiziri, who searches the jungle to find her, and her family, who work together to raise her when she is found. The book, which comes out this September, was written by the same authors as Knut: How one little polar bear changed the world, which is still a great favorite of my kids. A large part of the Knut book's appeal was Knut himself. Baby polar bears are universally regarded as the cutest things around; the same cannot be said of baby mountain gorillas. Miza the baby gorilla definitely looked soft, small and fluffy, but my kids weren't really buying the "wrinkled face = cute face" thing. However, they quickly became absorbed in the drama and soon found themselves rooting for little baby Miza.
As with The Tiniest Tiger, Miza includes lots of interesting facts about the animals and their habitat (The Pea was delighted to learn how to identify the nose markings of the gorillas), and does a great job of drawing kids' attention to their plight.