by Sy Montgomery
photos by Nic Bishop
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Informative, entertaining and uplifting, Chasing Cheetahs is that rare non-fiction book that reads like a beautiful story because that's what it is: a beautiful story of one woman's quest to save the African cats. Laurie Marker has been studying, breeding and raising and saving cheetahs for thirty years.
From her first job with animals at the vet clinic in a wild animal park to the grasslands of Africa, Laurie has experienced it all. She discovered that cheetahs kept in captivity had few chances to breed because the species needs security and privacy. The zoos and the parks just weren't quiet enough for the cats.
In 1991, Laurie gave up life in the United States, sold her home and moved to Namibia. She opened a conservation research center to help save the cheetahs. She and her staff train local farmers to keep trained dogs that will guard their farms. This will allow cheetahs to come and go as they please to hunt for wild game. The farmer will keep his stock, and they can all live in harmony. The center also trains those who want to start farming. They give future farmers
pointers on how to raise goats for profit and how to keep their flocks safe from cheetahs and other wild hunters.
The cheetah population in 1900 was over 100,000; today cheetahs umber only 10,000. With Laurie's guidance, the cheetah looks to have a much brighter future. Through her efforts in educating farmers and school children about saving the cheetah, Laurie has managed to change their perception of the large cats.
The book's photos are nothing short of spectacular capturing the cats on the move: pouncing, running, yawning and literally flying! A cheetah can travel from 0 to 40 in just three strides. Top speed for the cat is 70 mph. They can see up to two miles away, a feat that comes in handy when hunting.
Laurie Marker is a true inspiration of the power of one. She kept asking, "why doesn't someone do something?" for the cheetahs. Then she realized that that someone was her! And she never looked back.
Highly, highly recommended grade 5-up.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the book from the publisher and boy, am I glad I did! I just loved this one!
This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)