written by Sandra Markle; illustrated by Alan Marks
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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Two snow leopard cubs sleep in a den in the Hindu Kush Mountains of Pakistan. They are waiting for their mother to bring back food. The boy cub awakes and decides to explore outside the cave. His first lesson learned almost turns out to be his last lesson as a golden eagle approaches the cub. Fortunately for him, his mother arrives in time to swat at the eagle and chase it away. The beginning to Sandra Markle's narrative tale of two endangered cubs grabs you and leads you to further reading as you want to learn about the early life of these snow leopards. We follow the cubs as they learn to play and observe their mother hunting. She teaches them many lessons. Rubbing your cheek against a boulder leaves a scent to tell other leopards that this is your hunting ground. Students will make the connection to a house cat rubbing against their owner's leg. Another lesson taught is to be quiet while you are hunting. Noisy play is fun, but it can also lead to empty stomachs as potential prey is scared away. Challenging terrain and speedy potential meals like the ibex mean a snow leopard also has to be fast and able to stay on its feet as it pursues food in the rugged mountains. As the female and male cubs grow, they learn other lessons about guarding food, picking your battles, and keeping away from humans. Before too long, they are ready to leave and start their own families.
The beauty of Snow School lies in Sandra Markle's storytelling. Each lesson learned by the cubs is an engaging read. There are plenty of facts imparted, but you get good storytelling as well which makes it more interesting than a straight up informational text. Alan Marks's illustrations of these beautiful animals will hook readers as well. This book would be a great resource for an animal report. It would be a good challenge for students to have to glean facts from the narrative instead of having the information dropped in their laps. Snow School will teach many students about a fascinating animal in an unfamiliar setting.