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“There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island.”
Summary: Felina is a Florida Panther whose habitat is being encroached upon by humans. Roads, pollution, excessive noise, and other human influences have made it difficult for her to find food and shelter. She meets other endangered animals, such as the manatee, red cockaded woodpecker, and the wood stork who are also impacted by these same human influences. The loss of suitable habitat is devastating, and Felina becomes sick and undernourished. Alas, there are good humans who sedate Felina, rehabilitate her in a wildlife rescue, and release her into a protected wildlife park. The story is accompanied by wonderful full-page colored-pencil illustrations, rich in the colors and wildlife of the Florida wetlands. This is a picture book about an endangered wild cat.
Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book, independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 9; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 4 to 8
Reading Level: 4
Age of Child: Read with three brothers, ages 2, 4, and 6.
Young Reader Reaction: My children LOVED this book, especially learning about the animals. The story was written in a way that was highly accessible to the kids. They understood that pollution is not good for the animals, and why they could not cross a busy highway. They loved the illustrations. I did not delve much into the fun wildlife learning at the end. That is probably better for 6-10 year-olds (a high ratio of text to illustrations).
Adult Reader Reaction: I loved this book. I have a soft heart for endangered species, and this book really brings awareness to the plight of animals at the hands of human development. I love that we get to know the animals through their conversations, and they tell us "in their own words" what they are going through, first-hand. The illustrations are colorful and fun, and help bring the story to life with a richness and biological accuracy.
This is a great starting point for even the youngest children to learn about and appreciate environmental conservation and respect for the world outside of the human population.
Pros: Wonderful illustrations and a personable story make environmental conservation concepts accessible to even preschoolers. There are fun facts and extensions available for older kids, too.
Borrow or Buy: Buy. This is a wonderful book to be read over and over again. It has a happy ending and is great for learning and just to enjoy. This would be a wonderful book for the classroom or the school library.
Educational Themes: The end of the book has four pages of facts and activities about Florida Panthers, endangered/threatened animals, and specifics about the threatened animals Felina meets in this book.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.