snow school

Snow School by Sandra Markle, illustrated by Alan Marks

High in the mountains of Pakistan, two week-old snow leopard cubs snooze in a den waiting for their mother to return.  It’s May and the pair are only a week old.  When the male cub goes outside, he is attacked by a golden eagle and only saved by his mother rescuing him.  As the cubs grow, the practice pouncing one another and then start to eat directly from the game their mother kills.  Their mother teaches them skills they must have to survive in the harsh climate.  They learn to mark their territory, to silently hunt, to be quick, to guard their food, to find shelter when snow comes, and when to retreat.  It is a story of how small cubs grow into strong hunters and how these great and beautiful cats manage to survive in their mountainous and cold habitat.

Markle is the author of over 200 books for children.  In this one she takes on one of the most elusive creatures on earth and shows the strong family bonds and the huge amount of learning these young cats must accomplish to live.  She writes her nonfiction in verse, making it more easily read.  Nicely, as the mother is teaching her cubs, Markle makes sure readers understand the lesson by repeating it neatly at the end of the stanza. 

Marks’ illustrations capture the snow leopards and their beauty and grace.  There are moments of such daring leaps and heart pounding danger that Marks captures with flawless accuracy.  His use of soft watercolors adds to the mystique of these cats and also captures the speed and motion as they hunt. 

Beautiful illustrations and strong text result in a book that will teach children much about the snow leopards and their lives.  Appropriate for ages 7-9.

Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.