BOOK REVIEW: Counting Lions by Katie Cotton, illustrated by Stephen Walton
Frances Lincoln Children’s Books
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell
Picture Book / Reference
Within these pages you will find ten different species of animal ranging in endangered status from Least Concern and Near Threatened through to Vulnerable and Endangered, and the foreword by Virginia McKenna (a British stage and screen actress, author, and wildlife campaigner) goes further to explore the direction so many species of wild animal are going.
If it was true that there were, in reality, only five elephants or four tigers, then the world would know that the end of those species is in sight. That fearful moment has not arrived – yet. But no one can be ignorant of the fact that an increasing number of species of wild animals are par of this number crisis. In 1900 there were 10 million African elephants. In 2014 there were 434,000 – and that number falls weekly. Just over 100 years ago there were about 100,000 tigers. In 2014 there were fewer than 4,000.
On each page, and we count through from One lion to Ten zebras, we are given a gorgeous hand-drawn image of the creatures in question, so beautifully realistic that, even if the rest of the content were awful, it would be worth buying for the illustrations alone.
Accompanying each image we are given something of a narrative of this species, and then a repetition of the number and species on the page, suggesting that this could be tailored for different readers, as the younger readership might find the style of writing less colourful and engaging than what they’re used to.
Two gorillas breathe the same breath.
The child was born a tiny, two-kilo thing of hair and bone and not much else, so the mother keeps him close.
For two of three years, they clasp each other, one creature, while he grows and grows and grows.
Later, as he climbs the trees alone, he may forget they were once two together.
This is a book which can be approached in multiple ways, depending on the skill and attention span of different readers.
- The counting, for the youngest of readers (or listeners).
- The narrative for each species for the slightly older readers who are maybe starting to read for themselves.
- And additional information at the very back, including why these species are endangered, information on the contributors, and notes and further reading.
All in all this is a beautiful package and a must-have for animal lovers, especially those you’re wanting to teach about conservation.
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