Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: Moto and Me by Suzi Eszterhas

Moto and Me: my year as a wildcat's foster mom by Suzi Eszterhas. 40 p. Owlkids Books, April, 2017. 9781771472425. (Review from copy borrowed from public library.)

I was browsing the new books section at my spectacular public library  the other day. Honestly, I love the public library that is conveniently located across the street from my school! My own town's library is small and lovely and completely serviceable, thanks to the ability to ILL. My second public library, the one I visit most often is Amazing! 

Now, I ask you, how can you possibly resist this cover? It definitely has the "aw" factor. Once lured, readers are in for a lovely memoir of the months the author/ photographer spent fostering a serval. A serval is a medium-sized, spotted African wildcat. They have the longest legs and the biggest ears of all the cats for their body size, lending an air of goofiness. They use those long legs to jump really high and run really fast. (p. 38)

Ms. Eszterhas is a wildlife photographer who travels the world photographing animals. She spent nearly three years in the Masai Mara, a wildlife preserve in Kenya. Moto, named for the Masai word for fire, was being carried by his mother across a road to escape a brush fire, when she was startled by a jeep carrying tourists. She dropped her kitten and fled to safety at the side of the road. The jeep stopped to investigate; but the tourists didn't see her and they carried the helpless kitten to a park ranger, who then contacted the author. The kitten was only about two weeks old and required a lot of attention and care. She also had to take care not to domesticate him. 

The story is engaging and well-organized. The font is pleasing and there's plenty of white space. There are plenty of well-captioned photographs documenting all the milestones in Moto's life. Some are full-page, some are collages and others are more snapshot-sized. Each one is cuter than the last. Case in point, my class was doing some writing so I thought I'd work on this post. A student looked over as I flipped through the book and said, "Aw-w! Let me see!" Soon, there was a gaggle of sixth graders oohing over it. See what I mean? Display this prominently and it won't spend much time on the shelf.

The book has value as a conversation starter in a conservation unit or as an introduction to said unit. It can also be used as a mentor text in a memoir unit. A final page in the book contains additional facts about servals. There is no other back matter. The book is dedicated to all the wildlife rescuers in the world. According the jacket flap, a portion of the royalties are being donated to the Mara Conservancy. Visit Ms. Eszterhas' beautiful website here. This is the first book I've read by the author, but won't be my last. I am shocked that I have missed her work. Don't you! Moto and Me is a wonderful addition to any collection.

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