The Chiru of High Tibet: A True Story
by Jacqueline Briggs Martin

Price at time of review: $17.99
40 pp.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Boston, MA
ISBN: 9780618581306

Grade Level: 3-5

Reviewed by CBC Reviewer

From the northern plains of Tibet comes this true story, written in free verse, about the quest of scientist George Schaller and four other men to prevent the extinction of the chiru—an antelope-like creature that cannot survive captivity. The narrative of their journey is filled with personal details. Students won't put down this NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2011 without taking away a much deeper understanding of the methods of science.

The story begins with detailed descriptions of the scientists' preparations for a journey. The foods they packed (from falafel to hot chocolate), the way they moved their supplies (on specially made aluminum rickshaws), and the paths they would travel (muddy above the permafrost) are all details that put their efforts in context. It also begins with questions, like whether they had enough supplies and whether the population of Chiru was already so small that their journey might be in vain. When they finally find the calving grounds of the elusive antelope, the reader shares their triumph. This is an ideal book to integrate diverse methods of science and the importance of protecting habitat for biodiversity. The clear, simple text and blend of drawings and photographs stretch its age range from elementary through middle school.

Review posted on 3/20/2011

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