Monday, October 3, 2016

Nonfiction Monday: Last of the Giants by Jeff Campbell, illustrated by Adam Grano

I have mixed feelings about this new teen nonfiction title. I read it as my lunch nonfiction and, while it grabbed me and I devoured the whole thing in a few days, I am uncertain about its teen appeal.

So, this is a look at evolution, history, and the effect humans have had on the environment as seen through the extinction (and endangerment) of mega-fauna. Each chapter addresses the rise - and fall - of a once-dominant species. These include the moa, aurochs, elephant bird, Steller's sea cow, Indian Ocean giant tortoises, passenger pigeon, California grizzly, Thylacine, lions, red wolf, tigers, baiji, and rhinoceroses. Each chapter discusses the effect these creatures had on their environment and the causes and contributing factors in their extinction or endangerment. The conclusion discusses the sixth extinction and anthropocene, which we are now living in, and talks about changes that humans can make.

I personally found this fascinating. It's packed with history, science, and a dry humor that I appreciated. Campbell draws a clear line between fact and speculation and offers practical advice and talking points for further discussion and action. But....will teens pick this up? I'm not sure. It does have an eye-catching cover, but the text is dense and will require a decent reader to work their way through it. My teen nonfiction collection is primarily browsing materials and heavy on the misery memoirs, minecraft, and diy books so this is a bit of an odd choice.

Verdict: You'll have to decide for yourself if this is right for your library. Since I'm currently interested in diversifying my teen nonfiction and, having enjoyed the book myself, am confident of booktalking it to readers interested in science and history I am happy to have added it to the collection.

ISBN: 9781942186045; Published 2016 by Zest; Purchased for the library

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