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Children's LiteratureQuestions young children may have about extinct animals are well answered with simply written text accompanied by a myriad of beautifully detailed illustrations. Various causes for extinction and examples of extinct species are introduced at the beginning and then expanded upon later in the book. The formation and study of fossils precedes sections on dinosaurs, ancient reptiles, and woolly mammoths. The disappearance of the dodo is blamed on early explorers on the island of Mauritius. Huge birds in New Zealand, African quaggas, and Australian marsupials are among other animals that have disappeared throughout the world. It is an unsolved mystery why some ancient animals have survived and continue to thrive. Cockroaches, sharks, and crocodiles have been around for more than 200 million years. Readers are advised of the fragility of the earth and warned of the possibility that it is even now in the beginning stages of a sixth mass extinction. Over fishing, damage to coral reefs, and destruction of the rain forests are described as examples of ways that humans are careless with their own habitats and that of many animals. The book includes a glossary and an index. 2004, Kingfisher/Houghton Mifflin, Ages 5 to 8.
—Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.