Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins


Jenkins, Martin.  Can We Save the Tiger? Candlewick Press, 2011.  $16.99, 56 pages.

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Reader’s Annotation:  What we can do to prevent the mighty tiger from going the way of the dodo, the great auk, and the marsupial wolf.


Starting with an explanation of what it is to be extinct, Martin Jenkin’s tells the story of what it means to be endangered and how it can lead to extinction.  He uses specific animals to illustrate different points, such as how the tiger is endangered because of the threat they may pose to humans or that they require more land that is rapidly shrinking.  He uses the partula snail to describe the problems with introducing invasive species, the vulture to explain the effect that human decisions and choices have on their surrounding eco-systems, and the success and challenges of protecting endangered species such as the American bison and the kakapos.  Interspersed throughout the narrative are pictures of the endangered animals accompanied by facts and statistics about them.  He challenges readers that although the task may seem daunting, it is a worthy cause to fight for these amazing creatures before it is too late.


This nonfiction piece is an enlightening text on the plight of endangered animals.  Written in narrative, Jenkins explains different reasons why animals become endangered and anchors each reason to an endangered animal.  He uses “we” to include himself and the reader as the agents of change, as those called to action to do something for the endangered animals.  His treatment of the subject is not to vilify human actions, but instead to educate about how every human action has a consequence on the animal world that shares the same space.  The language used is accessible for readers, as terms are explained, and Jenkins keeps a more conversational tone than didactic.  He also uses different sized fonts to emphasize his points. The illustrations vary between strategically placed simple black and white pencil drawings and more elaborate oil paintings of the animals.  The endangered species are highlighted because of the fact that the illustrations are only of animals, not their habitats  or other scenes.

Rating Scale:

  • Popularity:1 – Would sit on shelves unread; 2 – May see the light of day as an assigned reading; 3 – Interesting to readers, may need marketing; 4 – Very appealing read, ; 5 – Need multiple copies, because it would always be checked out!
  • Quality: 1 – How was this book ever published?; 2 – Poor literary quality; 3 – Average literary quality, nothing stands out as exceptional; 4 – Overall high quality literary quality, with certain areas of exceptional literary quality; 5 – Well-crafted of the highest literary quality
  • Popularity: 3
  • Quality: 3

Genre and Subgenre: nonfiction, didactic

Appeal Factors:  endangered animals, illustrations, narrative style

Readalike Titles or Authors:

  • Let’s Save the Animals by Frances Barry
  • Almost Gone by Steve Jenkins
  • Saving Birds: Heroes around the World by Pete Salmansohn

Awards Won and Book Lists:

  • 2012 Notable Children’s Books
  • 2011 Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor, Nonfiction

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Extinct animals
  • How the vulture has been poisoned
  • Comeback story of the American bison

Book Discussion Questions or Ideas:

  • What are ways that you can raise awareness about endangered animals?
  • What things can you do to help save endangered animals?
  • Pick an organization from the list of resources at the end to contact.  What information could you ask for?

Why I Chose This:

I chose this book because it was a nonfiction picture book. I enjoyed the way it gave facts about endangered animals in a narrative format.  The pictures were also beautiful and the simple facts about the animals were as striking as the illustrations themselves.