Beware the Burmese Python and Other Invasive Animal Species by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Phil Nicholls

Beware the Burmese Python and Other Invasive Animal Species by Etta Kaner,  illustrated by Phil Nicholls. Kids Can Press, 2022. 9781525304460

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 3.5

Format: Hardcover 

What did you like about the book?  In this slightly oversized nonfiction book, a dog and a guinea pig discuss invasive species using comic book panels and talk bubbles. A table of contents lists 10 species, including nutrina, cane toads, burmese pythons, and feral cats, among others. Each gets several pages of information and a full-page comic that relates the story of how they became such pests. Starlings, for example, were released in New York in 1890 by Eugene Schieffelin, who wanted to bring all the birds mentioned in Shakespeare’s plays to America. Bad move Eugene! The U.S. is now home to over 100 million starlings. For each animal, readers can study a map and learn about its characteristics, habitats, and destructive ways. The book’s busy layout and snippets of information will be enticing to casual readers, but could also be used for a research project. The flat, detailed digital illustrations are serviceable. Back matter includes warnings about containing invasive species, a glossary, sources, and further reading. The various humans in the book come in a mix of genders, skin tones, and ages.

Anything you didn’t like about it? Why a dog and guinea pig as the narrators? I think an argument could be made that dogs can also be invasive. Kids are asked (for each animal) to report invasive species sightings to local fish and wildlife departments, which would seem unrealistic with 100 million starlings on the loose. Each section concludes with the same question, if you were a scientist or conservation officer, what would you do about the problem? I understand the interest in providing prompts for discussion, but having the same one every time felt lackluster.

To whom would you recommend this book?  Kid readers interested in conservation who like their science chopped up into small morsels would find this book worthwhile. 

Who should buy this book? Elementary school or public libraries

Where would you shelve it? 579.6

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No

Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA

Date of review: October 6, 2022

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