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Children's LiteratureThe Chinese name for the giant panda, daxiong mao, means "great bear-cat," and this library-bound reference for elementary school students explains why people compare some features of the famous, rare animal to a common household pet: the panda's catlike paws, its agility at climbing trees, and night vision. Following the same format as other titles in this series, this volume assembles its simple yet thorough portrait of the giant panda through brief chapters comprised of six or so paragraphs, set off graphically for easy reading with boxes, photos and illustrations. Chapter divisions and sequence are satisfying: anatomy, habitat, other animals commonly found in the giant panda's territory, the life of a baby panda, an adult's solitary routines and food sources. (Giant pandas eat about 20 kinds of bamboo, but did you know they have two favorites, "cold arrow" and "walking stick"?). An enormous number of interesting facts are presented in only 32 pages. A feature common to all books in the series, the first-person section "A Panda's Day," strikes an odd, anthropomorphic note. Readers also may be confused by seemingly opposite opinions offered about which animal the giant panda is more closely related to or should be grouped with — bears or the raccoon-like red panda. Yet the discussion about these cousins and near relations, and the chapter "Humans and Pandas," set the giant panda in greater context and bring these exotic animals closer to the world of the young reader. Part of the "All About Wild Animals" series. 2004 (orig. 2001), Gareth Stevens Publishing, Ages 7 to 12.
—J. H. Diehl