Owen Davey creates beautiful books. Anyone who has seen Mad About Monkeys or Smart About Sharks knows what I mean. As I've said before, the illustrations are crisp and clean without being cold or mechanical and have very retro vibe to them. The table of contents is located within the deep shadows among rain forest plants. There is a large 2-page spread showing the relative size of each species that is awesome in its ability to convey the wide range of possibilities from the largest tiger to the rusty-spotted cat. And another spread showing the various patterns that help to camouflage the cats in their habitats is incredibly detailed, right down to distinguishing the difference between the rosettes on a jaguar from those of a leopard.
A wide selection of cats of different sizes and abilities are included. Commonly known species like the cheetah and lion are seen, along with those of lesser notoriety such as pampas cats or Asiatic golden cats. And the section on cat mythology even mentions the Maneki-Neko beckoning cat figurines.
The facts are presented in 2-page sections ranging from marking territory to awards for loudest roar, longest jump, and longest tail. Several different types of charts and diagrams are used to present facts such as the modern species of wild cats, or the adaptations that give the Asiatic golden cat its "real life super powers.' There are catchy headings for each section. Young readers may not catch the word play ("Paws for Thought" or "Kitten Caboodle" ) but adults who will be reading along with many of those youngsters will appreciate the humor.
This is an excellent addition to any library collection, especially those serving an elementary or middle school audience. While the text is not overly technical, it also does not talk down to young readers. The author seems to understand that those who are fascinated with a subject will usually have the patience to work out what the text says so that they may satisfy their curiosity.
I received a copy from the publisher for review purposes.
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