Monday, March 21, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: Snow Leopards by Erika Shores

 Snow leopards are fascinating, beautiful, intriguing animals. Unfortunately, this book is none of those things.

I have long had a private (ok, well, not so private) dislike of Pebble's offerings of nonfiction. Basically, they're not enough bang for the buck. Expensive, library bound editions should have something worth binding, in my opinion.

This book is part of the Pebble Wildcats series. Twenty-four pages give simple facts about snow leopards accompanied by large photographs of snow leopards running, with babies, in the snow, and looking broodingly handsome, which snow leopards do very well.

The text is stilted and awkward, obviously straining to conform to "national science standards related to life sciences" as well as specific vocabulary and reading level requirements. A sample of the text says, "At around 20 months, young leopards leave their mothers. Adult cats live alone. They use claw marks and smells to mark their ranges." I would assume that the author was handed a list of vocabulary words and reading levels and told to make sure the text fit. The photographs are detailed, and there really isn't such a thing as a "bad" photograph of a snow leopard (the whole broodingly handsome thing) but I found it increasingly annoying that there was no information given on where the photographs were taken. Considering how endangered and difficult to see snow leopards are, I would guess most of these photographs were taken in zoos, but although there is a list of photo credits, no further information is given.

For an easy reader, this text is acceptable. But, as a librarian with a small budget, I object to paying $20 for an easy reader with such limited, bland text and obvious stock photography. I will wait for a book that appeals to a wider variety of ages and reading levels.

Verdict: Save your money. Buy Sy Montgomery's Saving the Ghost of the Mountain for your older readers and join me in waiting for a better snow leopard book for younger readers and listeners. Anyone have suggestions?

ISBN: 9781429644839; Published August 2010 by Pebble (Capstone); Borrowed from the library


Anonymous said...

I love the broodingly handsome bit, awesome, and so true!

Jennifer said...

Milwaukee zoo has a snow leopard - I have spent a lot of time staring at him. He is very handsome and very brooding. Or she, I'm not sure which.

Anonymous said...

I went to the zoo the other day, and there was a snow leopard, but he was mostly aloof. The tiger, however, kept giving the loudest growls every so often. He sounded like an enormous pissed off house cat.

Roberta said...

Thanks for your candid review. I agree that children's nonfiction suffers in general from having to conform to vocabulary lists and reading levels.

Love your description of the snow leopards, too.

Jennifer said...

It's hard to get younger nonfiction with photographs and really good text. Nic Bishop, Bearport, some of National Geographic's stuff, a couple easy readers series, Scholastic's True Books (although they can be a little choppy) that's about all I've found.

Anonymous said...

I think you're judging this book, and in fact the entire Pebble brand against a standard that it's not trying to meet. The value of these books is that the text is informative, yet accessible. This is the type of book that would be useful for a report in the early grades, not story time in the library.