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KLIATTPriceless is a gem of a nature book about animals around the world threatened by extinction. Stunning photographs accompanied by equally compelling text-often only an incisive line or two-grace each beautifully designed page. This is a serious book, but there is plenty of visual humor-from the photo of the baby polar bear suspended mid-dive, to the kangaroo scratching its belly, to the saucer-eyed loris accompanied by the entreaty at the end, "and now it's up to you." The author manages to convey how unique all animals are in appearance and behavior-and how little we understand them. About halfway through the book, the tone shifts as we are reminded how destructive our ignorance of the natural world into which we continue to sprawl really is-and how important it is for us to find a balance within it. The power in the author's punches come from the straightforward barrage of simple facts he discharges. The book ends on an uplifting note, with a reminder that progress has been made in coming up with solutions to depletion of our resources. And through conservation acts and special breeding programs, we have brought several species back from the brink of extinction. Readers are given several specific tips on what they can do-further reinforcement of the message throughout the book that small changes really can make a big difference. Those who take pleasure in wildlife photography (and certainly budding nature photographers, themselves) will especially enjoy the book. English teachers will be delighted to find models of lyrical prose in an expository text, ideal for lessons on figurative language ("watch a woma python/ pour through the Central Australian Desert/like liquidbronze/leaving in its wake/an Arabic prayer for understanding/written in the sand.") And there is lovely humor in the descriptive passages that accompany photographs such as the one of the "tufted puffin with its shock of blonde hair and rococo beak." Priceless truly conveys a sense of humans' oneness with these creatures and our responsibility to them-"We live among exotic neighbors who/from the day they are born/will breathe the same air and look up at the same moon as you and, when they die, will lie buried in the same soil." Finally, for anyone researching endangered animals, the author provides a wealth of information about each animal featured in the book in a section at the end. The last few pages will bring both a smile and a tear to the most hardened eye. "There will be beauty" (photograph of a brilliant tropical bird), "there will be joy" (frolicking monkey), "there will be life on earth" (two-page spread of elephant surrounded by white birds)and (close-up on the appealing face of a somber-sweet panda)-"you will never have to live in a world without pandas." Having strategically placed the book inside the door of my classroom, this reviewer was able to determine that most people from age 10 on up have a predictable response: entranced by the baby Bornean orangutan featured on the cover, they stop to flip through the book-and then, mesmerized, end up reading it from cover to cover. KLIATT Codes: JSA*-Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Andrews and McMeel, 147p. illus., Ages 12 to adult.
— Gloria Levine Bryant