By Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce; Illustrated by Sal Murdocca
Random House Books for Young Readers, $5.99, 128 pages
It’s like sneaking zucchini into chocolate cake. Pandas and Other Endangered Species, companion to Magic Tree House #48: A Perfect Time for Pandas, is the nutritious brain food in a twosome of delicious reading. Mary Pope Osborne, author of the Magic Tree House series, teamed up with her sister, Natalie Pope Osborne, to write this nonfiction book about endangered animals. Though the subject tends to become political, the authors stick entirely to fact and keep the tone unemotional and honest. The text and information is child-friendly without being juvenile. Complex ideas, such as why some animals face extinction, are explained with exceptional clarity and profundity.
“Jane Goodall carries a California condor’s feather wherever she goes as a sign of hope.”
Despite focusing mostly on pandas, the book discusses other endangered animals, from the well-known to the obscure, such as Bengal tigers, orangutans and kiwis (the bird, not the fruit). The authors include bios of Jane Goodall and George Schaller, inspirations for kids who want to help endangered species. As always, Sal Murdocca’s illustrations are beautifully rendered. For readers interested in discovering more, a handy resource guide is provided at the back. This book, like those of the entire Magic Tree House series, makes learning fun.
Reviewed by Andrea Klein