For my children’s books, I gravitate towards titles about Alaska. I love traditional stories with an Alaskan twist, such as The Alaskan Three Pigs (complete with a dog mushing, an igloo and huffing brown bear). We have books about animal tracks and learning to count with Alaskan Animals (seven red crabs eating stinky bait).
When my children called a zebra a moose and a water buffalo a musk ox, I thought I might need to broaden their horizons a bit. I was offered the chance to review books by a wonderful photographer. Before accepting, I found the website for the author (and photographer) Suzi Eszterhas. After a half hour browsing these pictures, I asked the publisher to send them as soon as possible.
(I received Gorilla and Cheetah for review and they are both available on Amazon for about $15.00.)
While the storyline reads like a children’s book, the photographs could be in National Geographic. It is nice to have a book that both my children and I enjoy reading at night. Both books have a story that shows a baby animal growing up, they interject new vocabulary (boisterous, perch and groom). The books also teach you about the animals through the story itself, rather than in a pedantic fact by fact lesson. I like that they have enough woods to make for a good bed time story, but my children don’t loose interest.
The books also have a page at the end with more facts. While my son’s didn’t enjoy this page, I learned quite a bit and will clean up on Jeopardy if the category is Gorilla sleeping habits (they don’t sleep in the same bed every night, but make a new nest each evening) or Cheetah’s drinking behavior (they can do without drinking water for 3-4 days).
I was happy to learn that these books are part of a series called, Eye on the Wild, that also has Lion and Brown Bear. I am going to add Brown Bear to my children’s Alaska book collection soon (it is not released yet). I can’t wait to see what images the photographer produces for that book.
I give these books my Alaskan Mom Approval and recommend them to any animal loving family. The combination of photography and engaging storyline make these a regular in our bedtime story rotation. The hardback cover and thick, glossy pages will also keep it in our library for a while to come as well. Even if it will be a few years before my children can read this themselves, I will enjoy reading to them about the nursing baby Cheetah and piggybacking Gorilla (their two favorite parts) as we cuddle before bed.