Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

Photographer Joel Sartore set out to document every animal in captivity, asking the question "once we love something, won't we do anything to save it?" His hope for his National Geographic's Photo Ark project is that people will "look these animals in the eye, and then fall in love with creatures as dazzling as a pheasant or as odd as an octopus."

In Animal Ark, Sartore teams up with Newbery Medal-winning author Kwame Alexander (The Crossover; Out of Wonder) to add a poetic narrative to his stunning collection of big, bold animal photographs. On every page, an elephant, a bat, a snake or neon-bright grasshoppers are set against a black or white backdrop, with Alexander's playful yet pointed verse meandering around the images. Each creature is allotted the same amount of space, giving the chameleon ("turquoise and gold/ camouflage in the trees/ moods changing with the breeze") and the wolf ("HOWL like you mean it... the world is listening") equal air time. Several pages fold open to reveal still more exquisite photos, along with lyrical exhortations to respect and protect vipers, beetles, foxes and tigers. Because, Alexander writes, "The majestic and powerful are counting on us to help them."

A final foldout includes thumbnail photos of every animal showcased in the book, labeled with name, threatened status and where the creature can be found in the wild. Any reader who loves poring over detailed close-ups of animals--every feather, fang and shell ridge is visible--will happily lose themselves in Animal Ark. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor

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