Can We Save the Tiger?
Can We Save the Tiger? Martin Jenkins, Illustrator: Vicky White; ISBN: 978-0-7636-4909-8; Candlewick Press; Amazon, ABE books, Ebay. Second hand.
'Can We Save the Tiger?' is a stunning book. Open it to any page and you can guarantee a visual treat. Vicky White's illustrations are the real highlight of this plea to curb human caused extinction. The half sketch book, half detailed painting style, where backgrounds and details come and go, gives a stunning fading feel to the book which fits well with its subject. The drawings are not child focused, but universally entrancing, which helps extend the book's appeal across the age ranges.
Martin Jenkins's text is a plea that speaks directly to the reader. It begins with an introduction to animals that we will never see again. The dodo, Stellar's sea cow and Great Auk all feature before focusing in on one of the next potential casualties, the tiger. The book uses the tiger to explain the complexities of species decline. This is not a rant about the bad people of the world, it is a gentle introduction to just quite how complicated the matter is.
Pleasingly, the book moves on beyond the iconic tiger to grapple with some less famous victims. The Partula snail and Kakapo both take centre stage, each with their own complex story of decline. Luckily there is also a continued glimmer of hope as Jenkins describes the conservation efforts already underway. The final message is an acknowledgement that while this varied array of problems, from over population, to bad historical decisions, may make it seem like there will never be a solution, Jenkins firmly rests on the point that there is no option but for us all to continue trying.
The text is accessible on a number of levels. The font size varies, and perhaps could have benefited by selecting certain text to enlarge that would follow a simple narrative for younger readers, rather than the variation being seemingly at random. An older reader can concentrate on the main text or focus in on the facts and figures that are positioned next to each animal, charting their habitat and current numbers left in the wild.
This book would make an excellent research tool for an upper KS2 study on human effects on the environment. However it best fits within the Science statutory requirements for year four, to whom the book may be a little challenging. With regards to higher key stages this book is best placed to complement KS3 human geography and interactions and interdependencies in KS3 biology.