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Animal Welfare: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about animal welfare?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to animal welfare. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about animal welfare.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about animal welfare, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things to popular sellers like Call of the Wild to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin.

We hope this list of kids books about animal welfare can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Don't Let Them Disappear
Written by Chelsea Clinton & illustrated by Gianna Marino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller She Persisted comes a beautiful book about the animals who share our planet–and what we can do to help them survive. Did you know that blue whales are the largest animals in the world? Or that sea otters wash their paws after every meal? The world is filled with millions of animal species, and all of them are unique and special. Many are on the path to extinction. In this book, Chelsea Clinton introduces young readers to a selection of endangered animals, sharing what makes them special, and also what threatens them. Taking readers through the course of a day, Don’t Let Them Disappear talks about rhinos, tigers, whales, pandas and more, and provides helpful tips on what we all can do to help prevent these animals from disappearing from our world entirely. With warm and engaging art by Gianna Marino, this book is the perfect read for animal-lovers and anyone who cares about our planet.

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The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin
Written by Julia Finley Mosca & illustrated by Daniel Rieley
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-10

If you’ve ever felt different, if you’ve ever been low, if you don’t quite fit in, there’s a name you should know… Meet Dr. Temple Grandin—one of the world’s quirkiest science heroes!

When young Temple was diagnosed with autism, no one expected her to talk, let alone become one of the most powerful voices in modern science. Yet, the determined visual thinker did just that. Her unique mind allowed her to connect with animals in a special way, helping her invent groundbreaking improvements for farms around the globe!

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin is the first book in a brand new educational series about the inspirational lives of amazing scientists. In addition to the illustrated rhyming tale, you’ll find a complete biography, fun facts, a colorful timeline of events, and even a note from Temple herself!

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Snow Leopard: Ghost of the Mountains
Written by Justin Anderson & illustrated by Patrick Benson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Look! A line of paw prints in the snow. Follow the tracks to see the rare and utterly majestic snow leopard and visit her secret world.

The people who live among the high peaks of the Himalayas tell stories of a mysterious animal called the gray ghost. To see one, you’d have to be very lucky indeed. Join a zoologist in the Himalayan mountains as he searches for the elusive creature. With her pale gold and silver-gray coat painted with black rosettes, she blends so well into the boulders, it’s no wonder she’s thought of as a ghost of the mountains. But the fortunate few who spot her are rewarded with a sight they will never forget. Written by an expert with firsthand experience, beautifully illustrated, and interwoven with fascinating facts, this vicarious look at a breathtaking animal includes an end note suggesting resources to explore.

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A Bee's Difficult Search for Food
Written by Mary Ellen Klukow & illustrated by Albert Pinilla
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

Animals face scary challenges every day! These narrative nonfiction books focus on describing the changes to animals habitats that affect the animal’s way of life-or even puts their species at risk of dying out! Readers will learn about the reasons for changes in habitats that affect animals and small steps they can take to help protect them. A scout bee is searching for food for the hive, but finds building development where flowers used to be. She must avoid pesticides and swatting humans. Will she find any nectar for the hive? This narrative nonfiction title includes a range map, notes on how to help bees, further resources, and a glossary.

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Adelita, a Sea Turtle's Journey
Written by Jenny Goebel & illustrated by Ana Miminoshvili
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

One moonlit night, a young loggerhead sea turtle crawled into the ocean. As she swam and rode currents, she wandered far from the beach where she’d hatched. How far? Nobody knew for sure. In 1996, this turtle, caught in Mexico, was given a name–Adelita–and a satellite tag was attached to her shell. Then she was set free in the Pacific Ocean. Adelita’s astonishing journey home led to a new understanding of sea turtles and inspired changes that have made the world a better place for them.

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  • Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See? - Illustrations and rhyming text present ten different endangered animals. On board pages.

  • Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals - This powerful nonfiction picture book explores wildlife crossings around the world and how they are helping save thousands of animals every day.

  • The Not BAD Animals - We all have a certain creature that makes our skin scrawl and give us the ‘heebie jeebies’. Spiders that make us scream, mice that make us jump on top of furniture until the coast is clear, or bats that make us shudder at the thought of them flapping around our hair. There are creatures big and small all over the world that make us squirm and wriggle in our seats just at the mere thought of them. But what did these animals ever do to deserve such a bad reputation? Most of the time it’s humans that have labelled them ugly, dangerous and downright gross. But it’s one false acquisition too many for these little guys. They’ve had enough of being called scary, slimy, nasty and ewwy. They’re here to dispel these false acquisitions and set the record straight once and for all! “You humans have given us a BAD rep! You’ve been spreading rumours about us - you think we’re scary and spooky and dangerous and icky. Well we’re here to set the record straight because we’re fed up with the lies you’ve been spreading. We’re not bad animals at all -we’re just misunderstood!” With laugh-out-loud illustrations from the immensely talented Sophie Corrigan, uncover the truth behind the animal and learn all about how each creature plays an important role in our world. With bitesize text that will leave you giggling and a fact box about each misrepresented creature, this is the perfect introduction to over 30 critters big and small who really aren’t all that bad at all!

  • Big Game - Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident zoo sleuth when a rhinoceros is at risk in <i>Big Game</i>, a companion to <i>Belly Up </i>and <i>Poached</i>–which <i>Kirkus Reviews </i>called a “thrill-ride of a mystery.” <p/>When someone takes aim at Rhonda Rhino, FunJungle’s pregnant (and endangered) Asian greater one-horned rhinoceros, the zoo steps up security measures in order to protect this rare animal and her baby. <p/>But the extra security isn’t enough–someone is still getting too close for comfort. Teddy and company start to suspect that whoever is after Rhonda is really after her horn, which is worth a lot of money on the black market. <p/>For the first time ever, the head of the zoo enlists Teddy for help–for once, he doesn’t have to sneak around in order to investigate–and the results are even more wacky, and even more dangerous, than ever before.

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Willow the Wildcat
Written by Lynne Rickards & illustrated by Kirsteen Harris-Jones
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Willow the wildcat kitten and her brother Corrie live in a cozy den in the forest with their mom. But disaster strikes when a nosy sheepdog collapses their den. Can the kittens stop fighting long enough to learn how to work together and find a warm, safe new home?

Written in lively rhyme, this charming tale of two siblings learning to appreciate each other and work as a team features dynamic watercolor illustrations of forest wildlife and two adorable wildcat kittens, which are endangered in Europe.

From the author of best-selling Skye the Puffling and Rowan the Red Squirrel, Willow the Wildcat brings the beauty of the Scottish Highlands and its animal inhabitants charmingly to life.

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Hello Hello
Written & illustrated by Brendan Wenzel
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A new picture book from Brendan Wenzel, the New York Times bestselling and Caldecott Honor-winning author of They All Saw a Cat! Hello, Hello! Beginning with two cats, one black and one white, a chain of animals appears before the reader, linked together by at least one common trait. From simple colors and shapes to more complex and abstract associations, each unexpected encounter celebrates the magnificent diversity of our world—and ultimately paints a story of connection. Brendan Wenzel’s joyous, rhythmic text and exuberant art encourage readers to delight in nature’s infinite differences and to look for—and marvel at—its gorgeous similarities. It all starts with a simple “Hello.” The book includes: • An afterword from author Brendan Wenzel about the importance of conservation and protecting the wildlife on our planet. • A glossary of the animals featured in the book and a notation on their status (Near Threatened, Vulnerable, Endangered, or Critically Endangered).

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Who Am I?
Written by Tim Flach
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Gorgeous nature photography introduces readers to endangered species in this picture book from Tim Flach Who is that peeking through the page? Is it a giant panda munching on bamboo? Or perhaps a yellow-eyed tree frog hiding in a tropical forest? Who Am I? uses clever riddles and stunning images by esteemed photographer Tim Flach (taken from his Abrams adult book Endangered) to introduce ten vital species-at-risk to readers. With its engaging and timely message, this beautifully crafted picture book is perfect for the youngest animal enthusiasts.

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Unicorns and Germs
Written by Asia Citro & illustrated by Marion Lindsay
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

In the sixth book, an earthquake shakes Zoey's house. Or maybe it's a unicorn-quake? An enormous new friend arrives in a lot of pain, and it's getting worse every day. Zoey must work with her mom and Sassafras to find a cure -- and quickly!

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Lion Down
Written by Stuart Gibbs
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Teddy Fitzroy returns as FunJungle’s resident sleuth when a lion is falsely accused of killing a distinguished dog in the latest novel in New York Times bestselling author Stuart Gibbs’s FunJungle series.

For once, operations at the enormous zoo/theme park appear to be running smoothly (except for the occasional herring-related mishap in the penguin exhibit) and Teddy Fitzroy is finally able to give detective work a rest. But then a local lion is accused of killing a famous dog—and the dog’s owner, an inflammatory radio host, goes on a crusade to have the cat declared a nuisance so it can be hunted. But it looks like the lion might have been framed, and a renegade animal activist wants Teddy and Summer to help prove it. Soon, Teddy finds himself wrapped up in the middle of his most bizarre, hilarious, and dangerous case yet.

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  • Polly and Her Duck Costume - Polly and Her Duck Costume tells the true story of Polly, a little blind goat who was rescued by Leanne Lauricella, rescuer of farmyard animals and founder of the immensely popular Instagram account The Goats of Anarchy. Polly has some trouble adapting to her new life until her new mom gives her a warm and fuzzy duck costume, which turns out to be the perfect fit! Follow along with Polly as she finds love with her new family, gains confidence, and makes new friends. The perfect tale to inspire and delight animal lovers, Polly and Her Duck Costume pairs beautiful illustrations with a truly heartwarming tale readers of all ages will adore.

  • Big Whales, Small World - In Big Whales, Small World you will meet whales from around the world. This rhyming photographic board book visits the oceans of places like New Zealand, Russia and South America. Writer, filmmaker and orca activist Mark Leiren-Young introduces young readers to blue whales bigger than dinosaurs and tiny vaquitas who swim close to shores.

  • Kitten Lady's Big Book of Little Kittens - Did you know that kittens are born with their eyes closed, and they are so small that they can fit in the palm of your hand? Or that being groomed with a toothbrush reminds orphan kittens of their mothers’ tongues, and helps them feel comfy and safe? Learn these facts and more in Kitten Lady’s first picture book! Hannah uses her engaging, fun voice to show how she helps orphan kittens grow up, get adopted, and become healthy, happy cats. Featuring irresistible photographs and playful doodles, Kitten Lady’s Big Book of Little Kittens shows what you can do to help the tiniest felines in our big, big world.

  • Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla - In a spare, powerful text and evocative illustrations, the Newbery medalist Katherine Applegate and the artist G. Brian Karas present the extraordinary real story of a special gorilla. Captured as a baby, Ivan was brought to a Tacoma, Washington, mall to attract shoppers. Gradually, public pressure built until a better way of life for Ivan was found at Zoo Atlanta. From the Congo to America, and from a local business attraction to a national symbol of animal welfare, Ivan the Shopping Mall Gorilla traveled an astonishing distance in miles and in impact. This is his true story and includes photographs of Ivan in the back matter.

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Return to the Jungle
Written by Bear Grylls
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In Return to the Jungle, the middle-grade sequel to Bear Grylls’s Spirit of the Jungle, Mak returns to the jungle where he is determined to set a captured endangered elephant free…

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The One and Only Ivan
Written by Katherine Applegate & illustrated by Patricia Castelao
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Soon to be a major motion picture! This Harper Classic edition of the Newbery Medal winner and #1 New York Times bestseller includes an author’s note, a letter from the real Ivan’s caretaker at Zoo Atlanta, Ivan’s “signature,” discussion questions, and more. This unforgettable novel from renowned author Katherine Applegate celebrates the transformative power of unexpected friendship. Inspired by the true story of a captive gorilla known as Ivan, this illustrated book is told from the point of view of Ivan himself. Having spent twenty-seven years behind the glass walls of his enclosure in a shopping mall, Ivan has grown accustomed to humans watching him. He hardly ever thinks about his life in the jungle. Instead, Ivan occupies himself with television, his friends Stella and Bob, and painting. But when he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from the wild, he is forced to see their home, and his art, through new eyes. In the tradition of timeless classics such as Charlotte’s Web and Stuart Little. Katherine Applegate’s novel blends humor and poignancy to create this incredible tale of friendship, art, and hope. The One and Only Ivan was named to multiple state lists, received three starred reviews, and was hailed as a best book of the year by Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Amazon. Plus don’t miss Katherine Applegate’s Endling series!

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The Wolves Are Back
Written by Jean Craighead George & illustrated by Wendell Minor
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
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If Sharks Disappeared
Written & illustrated by Lily Williams
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

A healthy ocean is home to many different kinds of animals. They can be
big, like a whale,
tiny, like a shrimp,
and even scary, like a shark.

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Fox's Garden
Written & illustrated by Princesse Camcam
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When a lost fox enters a village on a snowy night, a young boy, seeing that the animal has been chased away by the town’s adults, leaves a basket of food for the fox in a greenhouse where it has taken shelter.

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  • 10 Reasons to Love... a Whale - Blue whales are incredible creatures! Did you know they are the largest animal on earth? Or that they sing songs across the ocean? Discover ten reasons why whales are amazing and five ways you can show they love them in this gorgeous picture book. A must for any young animal enthusiast and a fantastic introduction to environmental issues.

  • Sammy Keyes and the Wild Things - While on her first hiking and camping trip, thirteen-year-old Sammy tries to solve a mystery involving endangered condors while avoiding scorpions, ticks, and embarrassment.

  • Saving Emma the Pig - Welcome to Apricot Lane Farm, a unique world full of true stories about heartwarming animals’ relationships and the special people who care for them. When Emma the pig arrives at the Apricot Lane Farm, she is about to give birth to piglets. But she is also sick, and after her seventeen babies arrive, Emma is unable to care for them. Taking care of seventeen piglets and a sick mama pig are a challenge for Farmer John and his team. But the cure for Emma reminds them what is most important—for pigs and for humans: love and friendship.

  • A Boy and a Jaguar - 2015 Schneider Family Book Award Winner

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10 Reasons to Love... a Penguin
Written by Catherine Barr & illustrated by Hanako Clulow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Penguins go on incredible journeys, toboggan on their stomachs, and survive in the harshest climates. Turn the pages of this giftable series to find 10 reasons to love penguins, and five ways you can show you care.

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Rhino in the House
Written & illustrated by Daniel Kirk
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“This is a nonfiction picture book for young children. It tells the true story of Anna Merz, a wildlife protector in Africa, and Samia, a black rhinoceros she saved after it was abandoned by its mother.”–

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Chasing Cheetahs: The Race to Save Africa's Fastest Cat
Written by Sy Montgomery & illustrated by Nic Bishop and Sy Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

Since the year 1900, cheetah footprints quickly dwindled in African dirt as the species plummeted from more than 100,000 to fewer than 10,000. At the Cheetah Conservation Fund’s (CCF) African headquarters in Namibia, Laurie Marker and her team save these stunning, swift, and slender creatures from extinction. Since the organization’s start in 1990, they’ve rescued more than 900 cheetahs, most of whom have been returned to the wild.

But this arduous challenge continues. For most African livestock farmers, cheetahs are the last thing they want to see on their properties. In the 1980s, as many as 19 cheetahs per farmer died each year. Cheetahs were considered vermin—but, in learning more about this magnificent species, we know this is far from true.

Today, CCF acts as a liaison between the farmers and the cheetahs, in order to promote cohabitation in an ecosystem that cannot thrive without the existence of the precious and predatory cheetah. On a wild ride through the African wilderness—sometimes sniffing out scents left in the dirt—Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop join CCF in studying the cheetah’s ecological, genetic, and behavioral patterns in order to chase down the fastest animal on land and save the species—before it is too late.

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Fiona's Friends
Written by John Hutton & illustrated by Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Fiona, was born six weeks premature. She was too weak to stand and nurse from her mother, Bibi, so caregivers and vet staff stepped in to provide. With help from #TeamFiona, the premature hippo grew into a healthy hippo and an amazing ambassador for her species. Some of the other species represented in this book, like black rhinos and Malayan tigers, are critically endangered. There is hope for them, but people must care enough to want to save them.

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10 Reasons to Love... a Lion
Written by Catherine Barr & illustrated by Hanako Clulow
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-6

Lions are the only big cat to live in groups, have the loudest roar and the most magnificent manes. Turn the pages of this giftable series to find 10 reasons to love lions, and five ways you can show you care.

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  • Francine Poulet Meets the Ghost Raccoon - "Francine Poulet will wrangle readers' hearts along with rascally wildlife in this standout early chapter book." -- Booklist (starred review)

  • Condor Comeback - Sibert Medalist, National Book Award Honoree, and New York Times best-selling author Sy Montgomery turns her formidable talents to the story of California condors and the scientists who have fought against their extinction in this installment in the award-winning Scientists in the Field series.

  • Bugs in Danger: Our Vanishing Bees, Butterflies, and Beetles - By now you’ve probably heard that bees are disappearing—but they aren’t the only species at risk. Populations of fireflies, butterflies, and ladybugs have all been declining in recent years, too. This middle grade nonfiction explains the growth, spread, and recent declines of each of these four types of insects. Exploring human causes, like the Baltimore electric company that collected fireflies to attempt to harness their phosphorescent lighting source, to natural occurrences, like the mysterious colony collapse disorder that plagues bee populations, master nonfiction storyteller Mark Kurlansky shows just how much bugs matter to our world.

  • Puma Dreams - A girl visiting her grandmother longs for a glimpse of the solitary and rarely seen puma. Her grandmother tells her that if she’s patient, one day her wish will come true. But patience is hard, the girl thinks. So, the girl and her grandmother stand watch each day, and then finally, without warning, she sees the beautiful animal from afar. Knowing she may never see a puma again, she now knows it’s everyone’s responsibility to protect these increasingly threatened animals.

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ResQ and the Baby Orangutan
Written by Eva Pell & illustrated by Mattias Lanas
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Engineering boy genius Wheaton and his nature-loving cousin Stowe set out on their first mission for ResQ, their organization to save endangered animals. Accompanied by their wildlife photographer grandmother, the two kids set off for Borneo to find a lost orangutan baby. By boat and helicopter, with the help of their new friend Rafi, they venture into the rainforest–but peat bogs and poachers are not so easy to overcome.

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Hurry Home, Candy (Harper Trophy Books)
Written by Meindert DeJong & illustrated by Maurice Sendak
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

The dog was lost. He had no name, and no one to love him. He has only the silent, empty countryside, and a few crumbs and bare bones he could pick up. He had only himself, and he was afraid. Along the way, the little dog found a few friends, people who gave him shelter for a while, but always he moved on – until he found a place he could call home forever.

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Call of the Wild
Written by Jack London
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Jack London's novels and ruggedly individual life seemed to embody American hopes, frustrations, and romantic longings in the turbulent first years of the twentieth century, years infused with the wonder and excitement of great technological and historic change. The author's restless spirit, taste for a life of excitement, and probing mind led him on a series of hard-edged adventures from the Klondike to the South Seas. Out of these sometimes harrowing experiences -- and his fascination with the theories of such thinkers as Darwin, Spencer, and Marx -- came the inspiration for novels of adventure that would make him one of America's most popular writers.
The Call of the Wild, considered by many London's greatest novel, is a gripping tale of a heroic dog that, thrust into the brutal life of the Alaska Gold Rush, ultimately faces a choice between living in man's world and returning to nature. Adventure and dog-story enthusiasts as well as students and devotees of American literature will find this classic work a thrilling, memorable reading experience.

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The Tiger Rising
Written by Kate DiCamillo
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

A National Book Award finalist by Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo.

Walking through the misty Florida woods one morning, twelve-year-old Rob Horton is stunned to encounter a tiger—a real-life, very large tiger—pacing back and forth in a cage. What’s more, on the same extraordinary day, he meets Sistine Bailey, a girl who shows her feelings as readily as Rob hides his. As they learn to trust each other, and ultimately, to be friends, Rob and Sistine prove that some things—like memories, and heartache, and tigers—can’t be locked up forever. Featuring a cover illustration by Stephen Walton.

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Red Alert
Written by Catherine Barr & illustrated by Anne Wilson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

“The Internati onal Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List tells us where we urgently need to do something to prevent the despoliation of this world.”—Sir David Attenborough, filmmaker and naturalist Inspired and endorsed by the “Red List” database of animals in peril, maintained by the IUCN, this interactive book introduces species on six continents. Lushly illustrated; blending approachable text and secondary facts; with full portraits of animals such as the Chinese giant salamander, the snow leopard, the blue whale, and the giant panda, Red Alert provides young activists with information on how they can help save these beautiful creatures. Inspire activism and environmentalism with these stories of animals in urgent need of attention.

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  • Picky Eaters - Did you know that koalas eat only eucalyptus? That arctic foxes dine on lemmings? Or that leatherback turtles enjoy a dish of jellyfish? Like children, animals can be very, very fussy about their food! This rhyming board book, with engaging lift-the-flaps, introduces toddlers to ten choosy creatures and their minimal diets. After meeting each animal, kids lift the flap to see what it eats. Most important, in addition to having fun, little ones learn that it’s good to eat adventurously.
    Put a new food on your plate,
    You may find it’s something great!

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