Nonfiction Wednesday – Feb 3, 2016

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2016 is a weekly celebration of imaginative children’s nonfiction materials hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy.


Title: How to Save a Species
Author: Marilyn Baillie, Jonathan Baillie and Ellen Butcher
Publisher: Owl Kids
Publication Date: 2014
Genre/Format: Nonfiction

My Two Cents: It only takes a cursory glance through the pages of How to Save a Species to come to the sad conclusion that planet Earth is in pretty poor shape. The sheer number of animals on the endangered species list is both mind-boggling and heart-breaking, and some of the stories covered in this nonfiction title are just staggering (there are only 4 Red River Giant Softshell Turtles alive in the wild!). The challenge facing authors Marilyn and Jonathan Baillie and Ellen Butcher is how to balance these stark facts with just enough hope and inspiration to keep the text from becoming overwhelming and discouraging for young readers.

How to Save a Species accomplishes just this by countering tales of dire straights with inspiring accounts of survival and resurgence. Profiles of scientists and researchers from around the world help bring the roles of conservationists to life. And of course there are plenty of vivid, brightly-coloured illustrations of these beautiful and threatened creatures. I appreciate that the authors have chosen to highlight a wide range of endangered creatures, including cute and cuddly favourites like sloths, and stranger creatures like wild yams, newts and pitcher plants. A living creature need not be cute to be worth saving!

The book includes a table of contents, a glossary and an index, all of which I like to see in a nonfiction text as they help young researchers develop and hone their skills. It also finishes with a great map showing where all of the animals in the book can be found (for now…), and a list of the world’s 100 most endangered species adds even more information to the book.

Another strong Red Cedar Award nominee, and another strong Canadian nonfiction book!