Monday, March 30, 2009

Tracks of a Panda - wonderful nonfiction picture book

We're off on an amazing family trip to visit friends in Hong Kong. Then we will venture to China. So I would like to share a wonderful picture book about a mother panda and her baby.
Tracks of a Panda
by Nick Dowson, illustrated by Yu Rong
MA: Candlewick Press, 2007.
ages 4 - 8
A mother panda brings a baby into the world, and teaches it how to survive in their mountain habitat. This picture book blends fiction and nonfiction in a beautiful way. You relate to the mother's search for a safe place for her baby, but you learn so much about the panda's habitat and life along the way. Each page has the story of the mother and her baby, and it has separate sidebars with information about pandas.

The baby panda is born, tiny and pink, in the summer: "Small as a pinecone, pink as a blob of wriggling sunset." It almost reads like poetry. The mother protects it and feeds when she can. As winter comes, mother and baby leave the safety of her den in search of more food in the mountains. Along the way, the mother keeps her cub safe from a wild dog, teaches him to swim, and shows him how to find the right bamboo. This is not a book for school reports, but is a perfect nonfiction picture book. It teaches the reader more about pandas, but leaves them yearning to keep learning about this special animal.

The illustrations are in a traditional Chinese brush and watercolor style. They are simple but moving and give a feeling of the pandas as a real treasure in China.

Find this book at the Berkeley Public Library or the Oakland Public Library. I just noticed that at Amazon, it comes with a CD or DVD - I have not seen this, but am intrigued. If you have a chance to see this accompanying CD, please let me know what it's like.

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