'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 22 November 2013

Review: Manatee Baby

Manuela lives with her father Silvio in the Amazon rainforest. Silvio's a fisherman and when she's not at school Manuela gets to go with him in the boat. One day, Silvio catches and kills a manatee — it's illegal to do so, but everyone turns a blind eye as a manatee will fetch a high price and has so much meat on it that it can feed an entire village.

It's a moment of triumph for Silvio, but one of desolation for Manuela. Killing the manatee doesn't make her feel proud or excited as she thought it would. Instead, she feels sad. And when she realises the manatee has left behind a calf, she decides she has to do whatever she can to keep it safe.

Almost everyone in the village, including her father, wants to sell the calf — condemning it to either a life in captivity or an early death — but Manuela knows that one person will help her: Granny Raffy. Together with her cousin Libia, Manuela abducts the manatee and takes it to the safety of her grandmother's home downstream. There they hatch a plan that will hopefully not only keep the baby manatee safe but also change the minds of the villagers and show them that manatees are worth protecting.

Manatee Baby is one in a new series of books by Nicola Davies that explores how children can find solutions to wild-life 'problems' through conservation rather than killing. A zoologist, environmentalist and award-winning author, Nicola has visited every country she writes about and has first-hand knowledge of the conservation efforts there. In the back of each book, information about the relevant animal species is included as well as details on how we can help the conservation effort. Other books in the series are The Lion Who Stole My Arm, The Elephant Road and Walking the Bear.

Highly recommended for young animal lovers.

Title: Manatee Baby
Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Annabel Wright
Publisher: Walker Books, $11.95 RRP
Publication Date: October 2013
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781406340884
For ages: 7+
Type: Junior Fiction