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Pandas' Earthquake Escape

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Pandas' Earthquake Escape
By Phyllis J. Perry
Illustrated by Susan Detwiler
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2013
ISBN: 978-16071-8082-1

Reviewed by Anna Dogole - September 8, 2015

On May 12, 2008, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit the Sichuan province of China. This devastating earthquake killed more than 69,000 people and injured more than 370,000. Humans, however, were not the only victims of this disaster. Many animals also died as a result of this earthquake, including many giant pandas. In addition, a great deal of their habitat was destroyed when landslides covered the area with mud and debris. Hard hit in this disaster was the Wolong National Nature Reserve in China, which featured the Wolong Panda Center, a giant panda research center that was working to breed the endangered pandas. The center was destroyed by the earthquake, and several pandas living at the center were injured and at least two died as a result of the earthquake. As well, at least fifteen wild pandas, and probably more, were also killed as a result of the earthquake.

In the Pandas' Earthquake Escape, Phyllis J. Perry uses the backdrop of the very real events of the Great Sichuan Earthquake to teach young readers not only about earthquakes, and pandas, but also about animal survival instincts and the steps that humans are taking to try to ensure that the giant pandas never become extinct. While the backdrop of the story is based in fact, the actual story is fictional. It is also uplifting and thrilling, and not in the least depressing.

Cute and cuddly looking, pandas are beloved by both young and old. As such, they are a perfect foil to engage readers' attention as they learn about both pandas and earthquakes in the Pandas' Earthquake Escape. This marvelous 32-page children's picture book is geared toward children ages 4-8. It follows the adventures of LiLing and her cub, Tengfei as they live through the earthquake and are forced to flee from their panda sanctuary, which was destroyed due to the earthquake. The story shows the steps that the pandas had to take in order to survive outside of their normal environment, and how it came about that they eventually returned to their old home.

The story is illustrated by Susan Detwiler, and the pandas in the pictures look so cuddly that you just want to hug the book! In addition to the illustrations, the book is also enhanced by a section called For Creative Minds. This four-page section offers additional educational opportunities for children to learn more about giant pandas, earthquakes, the Richter scale, and much more. In addition, teaching activities geared toward this book, and more can be found online at arbordalepublishing.com. The combination of a fictional story tied to educational activities make this an ideal book for use at both home and at school.

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