Friday, January 28, 2011

The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story

by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Linda Wingerter
Houghton Mifflin, 2010. Unpaged. Nonfiction.

Chiru live in only one place in the world, Chang Tang, the northern plains of Tibet. Because the high plains of Tibet are so cold, chiru wool is the warmest and finest in the world and is in great demand. Unfortunately, the wool cannot be sheared, leaving the animals alive because the animals would die of cold without their wool, so chiru are becoming endangered as they are killed for their shahtoosh, the most beautiful wool of all. Jacqueline Briggs Martin tells not only the chiru's story in this fine picture book, but the story of the men who are working to save them: chiefly, George Shaller, but four other men who hiked dangerous trails in the Kunlun Mountains to find the chiru calving grounds so they could be protected by the Chinese government. A few quibbles aside, this is an excellent introductory volume for young children about one of the world's rarest creatures, and a good primer on how to care for the earth's creatures as well. Pictures and text are evocative and well-matched.

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