Small and Tall Tales of Extinct Animals

Written by Damien Laverdunt
Illustrated by Hélène Rajcak

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This is an enticing mix of mythology and science to tell the history of many animals world-wide that are now extinct. Some of the animals died because of the encroachment of man, but for others there may be many reasons for their extinction. Weather, food and predators all play a part in the life and death of these animals. The book is divided by continents, with a map spread out over two-pages showing exactly where the natural habitats of these animals were. There are basic facts about their size, what they probably ate, where they lived and approximately when they became extinct.

Each animal has two pages devoted to it, the first page is done in a graphic cartoon style, depicting the mythology or folk lore of each animal, telling the native peoples stories and legends of what they believed about the animals. The second page of each spread has a drawing depicting what the animal looked like and gives some known scientific facts about it.

The book will grab and hold the attention of all who read it. It was written to appeal to fourth and fifth grade children, giving them a view of natural history in a format they can grasp. The author didn’t pull any punches when he addressed the fact that sometimes human activities were the cause of the animals’ demise, but he also refrained from making any judgments about that fact. This book can lead to discussions about the consequences of our actions, and our responsibility to take proper care of the land and its resources.

Some of the words may be a bit above fourth grade, and so the younger reader may need some assistance, making this a great read aloud book. Everybody that reads this book will enjoy the format and learn some interesting facts and stories. The difficult words will quickly be added to the child’s reading comprehension, as they are repeated several times.

There is a glossary at the back to help explain some of the new words, as well as a timeline showing when in history the animal existed.

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