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Wild Cats: Past & Present

Wild Cats: Past & Present

by John Beckher, Mark Hallett (Illustrator)

Editorial Reviews

AGERANGE: Ages 12 to 18.

Entertaining and informative, this slim, oversized volume traces the cat from the ancestor it shares with the dog to the thirty-six feline varieties that populate today's world. Pictures, illustrations, sidebars, and inserts depict the extinct breeds that failed to adapt; the plentiful species, such as the American lion, that successfully multiplied; and the endangered cats now nurtured by environmental groups and zoos. Becker clarifies his explanation of scientific and common names with a two-page chart that, when possible, includes a picture of each cat breed. Pictures and names are repeated at the beginning of the chapters that discuss the cats in relation to their geographical location. He explains seven cat conservation projects and includes contact information. Becker's extensive bibliography and Web sources offer print and nonprint suggestions for more information. The final chapter discusses man's fascination with cats that led to worship, domestication, out-of-control feral populations, and inappropriate pets. By flipping through the pictures or reading the text, one will glean information about saber teeth, repopulation, the interdependence of predator and prey, as well as the smallest, largest, loudest, and most reticent, ferocious felines. Animal lovers, whether avid or reluctant readers, from middle school through high school, will love to pour over the pages. Those who are not as enthusiastic about felines will find this book to be a painless springboard for researching a cat-related topic. Reviewer: Lucy Schall
April 2008 (Vol. 31, No. 1)

Children's Literature - Norah Piehl
Becker sets himself an ambitious goal—tracing the evolution of today's more familiar large cats from their prehistoric predecessors—and, for the most part, he succeeds in this venture. The result is an attractive, large-format survey of feline life past and present that will certainly captivate young naturalists. An opening chapter begins with a general discussion of feline origins, including profiles of some modern-day cats who share many prehistoric characteristics. Becker discusses the fossil record as well as issues of extinction. Later chapters focus primarily on modern-day cats, divided geographically. Here the text manages to preserve a historic focus, often discussing currently endangered species (and the attempts to save them) in terms of historical phenomena such as over-hunting. Throughout the book, color photographs and Mark Hallett's paintings add not only visual interest but also context for the straightforward text. Colorful maps and charts also help elucidate the text in this well-designed volume. A list of conservation organizations as well as a fairly comprehensive bibliography to print and online sources will help readers who want to learn more. Reviewer: Norah Piehl
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8- After an initial primer on the ancient ancestors of today's felines, Becker divides his coverage by continent, with North American and African animals receiving the most attention. Some reference is made to domestic cats, predominately in relation to how they compare to their wild cousins. The growing issues of feral cats and keeping exotic cats as pets are also discussed. For every mention of how humans have negatively impacted the wild cats' existence, there is information about steps being taken to protect and preserve them. In keeping with the research focus of the book, the full-color photographs are of a conservative nature, utilizing portraits of the cats rather than exciting action shots. The book gives the impression that some of the cats covered are so rare that there are no photos available, yet a simple Internet search proves otherwise. The volume is well organized and supported by an impressive bibliography of field interviews, articles, and books. Web sources citing more than two dozen wildlife services, conservation teams, and similar protective organizations are also listed.-Kara Schaff Dean, Walpole Public Library, MA

Product Details

Lerner Publishing Group
Publication date:
Darby Creek Exceptional Titles Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.50(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
NC1230L (what's this?)
Age Range:
9 - 12 Years

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