K-Gr 3-Knut is a German polar bear born in captivity. His story is told in simple language and accompanied by adorable, engaging close-ups of him and his primary handler, a zookeeper named Thomas Dorflein. Originally one of two cubs born to a befuddled mother, Knut alone survived, and he began to thrive under his human surrogates' loving care. Predictably, it's the color pictures of the cuddly cub that really sell this sterling title; Knut is, naturally, very photogenic. Readers who are too young to appreciate the light nonfiction narrative can approach this book purely as a photo-essay and still take a great deal away from it. The authors make quick work of the sensational, incendiary statement that launched Knut into the spotlight-that he should have been left to die. Instead they use his words to open an important dialogue and share information about Knut's natural habitat and how to preserve it. Consider this well-written, well-documented title an essential addition to every collection.-Catherine Threadgill, Charleston County Public Library, SC Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
In Owen & Mzee, Craig Hatkoff and his daughter Isabella told of the close rapport between an orphaned baby hippo and an elderly tortoise; here they team up with Isabella's sister Juliana and Uhlich, a board member of Zoo Berlin, to focus on another stirring, if less startling, interspecies friendship. A polar bear at that German zoo, Knut became an international media darling shortly after his birth in 2006, when his mother showed no interest raising him and zoo employees stepped in to take her place. Assuming the role of Knut's "around-the-clock foster father," the zoo's chief bear keeper remained at the cub's side for four months without interruption, day and night, feeding and grooming him, even playing him Elvis songs on the guitar and eventually teaching him how to swim. The informative narrative flows easily, yet the show-stoppers are the color photos, culled from numerous sources. Many put the fluffy, wide-eyed Knut face-to-face with readers; others capture the celebrated bear at play (wrestling with an old boot, mouthing a deflated soccer ball) or at rest (nestled between two stuffed animals in his sleeping box). Remarkably photogenic, Knut brings home for young readers the importance of saving polar bears' natural Arctic habitat, a message stated in the conclusion and reinforced with tips on how children can help combat global warming. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.