Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, February 17, 2014

Wild Animal Neighbors: sharing our urban world by Ann Downer

Wild Animal Neighbors: sharing our urban world
Ann Downer
Twenty-First Century Books. 2014
ISBN: 9780761390213
Grades 4 thru 12
I borrowed a copy of this book from my local public library.

As our human population grows and spreads, wild animals are running out of space. What would you do if you found an alligator in your garage? Or spotted a mountain lion during your morning run through city streets? Ann Downer, known for her absorbing fantasy books, has turned her hand to writing nonfiction with a science theme. In Wild Animal Neighbors, she asks readers to think about what is bringing these creatures out of the wild and into our paved-over, glassed-in, and built-up human habitats, our concrete jungles?

Each chapter focuses on a specific wild animal: raccoons, mountain lions, Japan’s Jungle Crow, coyotes, Australian Flying Foxes, sea turtles, and alligators. She examines what is bringing them into our neighborhoods and what can we do to create space so possibly animals and people can live side by side. Within each chapter are well-captioned color photos and sidebars giving animal facts. Back matter includes source notes, selected bibliography, books & websites for further reading, and index.

Human impact on the environment is an ongoing research topic for students. It is important for students to understand how our actions can affect the world around us. Wild Animal Neighbors is a good title to use as an introduction to the subject of urban animals. 

Go here to visit Ann Downer’s blog.

As I read Wild Animal Neighbors and how humans are encroaching more and more into wild area, it brought to mind the book, The Dark Hills Divide by Patrick Carmen, the first in The Land of Elyon series. In this enjoyable fantasy, high stone walls surround the towns and roads in the kingdom of Elyon. The walls were built to keep out an unnamed evil, yet what they have done is divide local animals from their food supplies, homes, and families. To prevent an impending invasion, the forest dwellers seek the help of twelve-year-old Alexa whose connection to those of influence helps bring down the walls. I often wonder if Carmen wrote it as an allegory to our modern day problems.

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