Aug 4, 2010


by Dianne MacMillan

Of all the j-nonfiction animal books I've been reading with my kid lately, this one stands above the rest. All the pictures are good quality, some stunningly beautiful. It's well-organized and really informative. And it's also very well-written. The prose is lyrical and descriptive, while still being easy enough for a child to understand. I very much enjoyed reading it. I think it's a good example of how a kid's book can still have lovely writing even when it's just mostly stating facts. Cheetahs describes where cheetahs live, compares them to other big cats, describes how their bodies are adapted to speed, and mentions something of their history with man. Most of the book is a description of a cheetah's daily life, how it hunts, raises a family, interacts with other predators, etc. The final pages (a common theme in these books, I am finding) discusses why cheetahs are endangered. It goes a bit beyond the usual habitat loss and poaching issues to also talk about genetics and captive breeding programs. A beautiful little book overall, one that impressed me so that next time kiddo is looking for "true books" about animals in the library, I just might type in this author or series name to see what else comes up.

One thing jumped out and made me question; that was the information on how cheetahs (and other cats) purr. This book says they do it by the sound of blood flowing near the vocal chords. I thought the theory of vibrating blood making the purr was an outdated theory? and that it was established knowledge now that cats purr by vibrating muscles in their larynx. But this is something that has puzzled scientists for a long time, maybe we still don't know exactly how they do it.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 48 pages, 1997

More opinions at:


Zibilee said...

All of these animal books that you have been spotlighting sound very entertaining and informative. I have a couple of friends whose children would probably love them all, and I have been keeping a list for them. Thanks for posting these reviews!

bermudaonion said...

I think cheetahs are such gorgeous, majestic creatures, so I bet I'd enjoy reading this too.

Carol said...

Sounds like a good one. I always like when I can find non-fiction series that my daughter enjoys and gets a lot out of.

Jenners said...

I like that this book isn't all dry and boring facts. My son just loves animal and science and nature books, and they are often so boring to read and just present dry fact after dry fact. It is nice to hear that there are better ones out there. I'll have to look for this. We're a big fan of cheetahs in this house!