Animals That Changed The World is full of interesting facts for all ages


Rating: 5 stars

Animals that Changed The World, by Keltie Thomas, is a study in contrasts. Among the twenty or so animals featured in the nonfiction book are those that have helped mankind and those that (to this date) pose a threat to us (some microbes).

From the book:

Did you know that goats may have been the first to discover coffee? Or that, long before texting, pigeons were the fastest way to send messages? And that dolphins work as underwater detectives for the U. S. Navy?

Find out the surprising ways that animals–from dogs to dolphins, sheep to silkworms–have changed the course of history.

Just one of the many fascinating theories in the book is that the herding of goats not only enabled man to stop roaming and settle down, but the goats changed the topography of Africa and even the world’s climate. Interesting ideas like that are why adults as well as middle aged readers will love this beautifully illustrated, well-organized book.

The book makes no judgment about how mankind uses animals which may disappoint animal lovers. For example, that elephants work and are used in circuses is discussed. The book states, “In circuses and zoos, elephants kill more handlers and keepers than any other animal.” However, the book does not discuss the idea that it may be that elephants are not suited to captivity and may be mistreated by circus handlers to perform unnatural tricks.

The book is a natural for classrooms studying animals. Because of the simple writing style, lovely pictures and drawings, and careful organization, the book would be suitable for any student reading at the grade  level equivalent of fourth grade. The neutrality of the book may make for interesting discussions by the classroom teacher if the book is used in a school setting.

The author, Keltie Thomas, is no stranger to nonfiction for children. She is a former editor of Owl magazine and has authored several non-fiction books for children. She has been nominated for the Silver Birch Award by the Ontario Library Association five times. The book is published by Annick Press in Canada.

This book is available for preorder. The book will be available in September of 2010.

This book would make a great gift and is a must for a school library.