African Critters

( 4 )

Overview

With a dramatic first-person narrative and close-up photography that brings kids into the thick of the action, National Geographic photographer Robert B. Haas gives us a rare glimpse into the struggles for survival in the African wilderness. We accompany him in his jeep, camera primed and ready to react. With stories and photographs that portray actual events, we wait patiently to spot leopard cubs coming out of their cave to play; we are charged by protective adult elephants who surround a new-born; we move ...
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Overview

With a dramatic first-person narrative and close-up photography that brings kids into the thick of the action, National Geographic photographer Robert B. Haas gives us a rare glimpse into the struggles for survival in the African wilderness. We accompany him in his jeep, camera primed and ready to react. With stories and photographs that portray actual events, we wait patiently to spot leopard cubs coming out of their cave to play; we are charged by protective adult elephants who surround a new-born; we move side-by-side with a clan of wild dogs as they hunt impalas.

All the stories in the book are intimate, engaging, and true. Haas shares his work with readers, teaching the key lessons that all wildlife photographers live by: patience, persistence, and an intense interest in animals. "When we are out there, we are working inside a world that is both fascinating and historic." This beautiful and inviting book draws readers into Haas’s passion for Africa, for conservation, and for finding harmony between the actions of humans and the survival of wild animals.

African Critters is a wonderful holiday gift for animal lovers of all ages, a valuable sourcebook for school reports, and an essential addition to any animal book collection.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
A photographer recounts his adventures taking pictures of African animals in this book. He begins by presenting a series of wonderful, close-up photographs of a leopard mother raising her cubs. Brief facts about leopards appear in accompanying small boxes, and an exciting true story about each featured animal is presented. After leopards, Mr. Haas covers elephants, wild dogs, lions, hippos, and rhinos, as well as smaller creatures like the dung beetle. The book is published by National Geographic, so it is easy to admire the lush photographs and the author is well-qualified in African wildlife photography. Since his stories are set in specific Africa locations, a small map would have aided readers in understanding where the stories take place. In addition, some of the vocabulary terms may not be familiar to middle school readers, and some of the smaller images are confusing to identify. Still, Mr. Haas does provide a good index and a thorough list of the references he consulted for the book. The attractive photographs and the author's enthusiasm for his work make up for some of the book's deficiencies. Elementary and middle school readers will enjoy the photographs and begin to develop an understanding of wildlife. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal

Gr 3-6

Haas has culled from his experiences as a wildlife photographer for National Geographic and selected various vignettes about encounters with leopards, elephants, wild dogs, lions, hyenas, hippos, rhinos, and cheetahs. There are moments of drama and tension, awe and sadness in the first-person narratives. The author makes it clear that predators need to eat animals to survive, and he is obviously aware of his young audience. Although a buffalo herd kills a lion cub, the chapter ends with the information that its two siblings have survived and are safely rejoined with their mother. The writing is strong enough to stand on its own, but the photos steal the show. Close-ups allow youngsters to see the shadows in the eyes of a lion, a string of saliva in the mouth of a hyena, and a single purple dragonfly resting over the eye of a crocodile. Whether they are blurred to emphasize an animal's speed or sharp enough to count the whiskers on a mother cheetah, each photo or montage is a narrative on its own. On nearly every spread, a sidebar gives information about the species, and an insert at the beginning of the book describes the photographer's typical workday, hour by hour. Haas refers to the animals as "critters," generally considered a regional or slang term for "creatures," which may be jarring to some readers at first but will quickly be forgotten as the stories unfold. Each of the seven chapters would work as a read-aloud for an individual or group. Together they paint a fascinating picture of the work of a wildlife photographer.-Ellen Heath, Easton Area Public Library, Easton, PA

Kirkus Reviews
Striking photocollages, most in lush color, illustrate, sometimes problematically, this wildlife photographer's account of adventures in animal preserves in southern Africa. Short chapters describe exciting encounters with leopards, elephants, wild dogs, lions, hyenas, hippos, rhinos and cheetahs, as well as smaller creatures. The first paragraph on each double-page spread begins with a tiny photographic vignette, and the endpapers are composed of a pattern of even smaller photographs of various animals. "Learning About . . . " boxes add further facts. An excellent index identifies the animals in larger pictures, even if unidentified in the text, but readers will search in vain for labels for some of the smaller images. The digitally enhanced composite photographs show the animals in a variety of poses but can be confusing, as when a hyena and her two cubs appear as a much larger family: With composites, the reader can't tell what is real. In an afterword, the author explains his presentation as "artistic license" to represent his emotional experience, but it, like the cover montage, may misrepresent the animals' world. (glossary, index, references) (Nonfiction. 7-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426303173
  • Publisher: National Geographic Society
  • Publication date: 9/9/2008
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 231,521
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 1020L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert B. Haas has traveled extensively throughout Africa, photographing animals from the ground and from the air. His work has appeared in National Geographic Magazine and has been featured in his books Through the Eyes of the Gods: An Aerial Vision of Africa and Through the Eyes of the Condor: An Aerial Vision of Latin America, both published by National Geographic.
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Customer Reviews

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