Saturday, March 19, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on March 17, 2011
Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian
Luna, The Little Moon Bear Cub, by Cats Thompson, 43 pages.
@ SPL: JP Thomp
Cats Thompson’s gentle story features Luna, a young moon bear cub who finds himself alone when his mother goes on a long search for honey. When he sees a colourful butterfly fluttering about, they play together, chasing each other down the mountain and into the valley. Luna is having so much fun that he doesn’t realize that the wind has picked up and it’s getting colder. Suddenly he’s caught in a storm – and he’s also lost.
Luna is able to find a cave in which to shelter, and the story ends happily for him as he is reunited later with his mother. However, this gentle story, with its beautiful illustrations, highlights the unhappy plight of our planet’s moon bears, which have become a threatened species.
Moon bears, found in the mountains, valleys and streams of China and other Asian countries, are distinguished from other bear species by crescent-shaped areas of light-coloured fur on their chests.
Unfortunately, the population of these peaceful, unique creatures grows less each year, threatened by the gradual destruction of their habitat and by hunters who trap them for their bile, which is used in the traditional medicines of some Asian countries.     
Information about moon bears is included at the back of this picture book.
 ** Recommended for ages 4 to 8 years.
Polar Bears, by Mark Newman, 32 pages.
@ SPL: 599.786 New
Did you know that the polar bear is the biggest bear in the world - even larger than the Kodiak brown bear? It’s true. In fact, despite weighing only a pound at birth, a full-grown male polar bear can weigh as much as a small car!
Did you know that these bears can swim faster than they can walk or run? Using their webbed front feet like paddles, they use their hind legs only to steer, and can actually swim about ten kilometres per hour.
Can you imagine not eating for three or four months? A mother polar bear cannot eat for the entire three-to-four-month period in which she is nursing her babies. And here’s something very surprising: polar bears are actually black, not white! That’s correct – the skin of a polar bear is black, and polar fur is composed of clear hollow hairs which have no colour. The fur looks white because the hairs, being clear, reflect light.
As well as fascinating facts such as these, this book is filled with spectacular photos of these magnificent animals. Mark Newman is a renowned wildlife photographer whose work has appeared in many publications, including National Geographic and Newsweek. 
It’s a well-known fact that the polar bear is an endangered species. What may be less known is when the United States Department of the Interior declared the polar to be a threatened species, it was the first animal added to the endangered species list specifically because of global warming.
Additional information and a list of conservation organizations concerned with the future of polar bears are included at the end of this attractive, informative children’s book.
** Recommended for ages 5 to 10 years.

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