Monday, June 17, 2019

Review: The Woolly Monkey Mysteries by Sandra Markle

How much does one particular species really matter to an entire ecosystem?


In the cloud forests of the Amazon Basin, scientists are installing extraordinary numbers of camera traps in the hopes of learning more about an elusive species—woolly monkeys.

No one knows for sure how many woolly monkeys are left in the wild. But they play a key role in their ecosystem, and without them the rain forest is in trouble.

Join scientists on their quest to solve the mysteries surrounding the lives of woolly monkeys before it's too late.

The nice thing about reviewing a Sandra Markle book is that you can rest on her reputation and be relatively certain the science is well-researched and accurate!

So, why are the woolly monkeys so important? The answer lies in...poop! The monkeys eat a variety of fruits from different trees in the forest to keep up their energy as they jump from tree to tree. They also need to stay light, though, so they have to poop frequently. That waste not only contains the seeds of the fruit they have eaten, it provides a nice little pocket of fertilizer to get a new tree started! In this way, the variety of trees and plants that the rainforest needs to have in order to support the variety of wildlife is 'planted' throughout by the monkeys.

No monkeys = no monkey poop = no plants = no animals = no rainforest.

For this reason and more, scientists want to make sure they understand how the woolly monkeys live, so they can make sure they aren't even more endangered than believed. Are they all the same species? How often do they give birth? How far do they travel in a day? And...why do they sometimes eat dirt?? But, how do you study an animal that hides so well? (Hint: lots and lots and lots of cameras...and some expert tree climbers!)

Markle's writing style is conversational, imparting a boatload of facts with direct quotes form scientists in the field. A two-page spread describes the layers of the forest, and colorful sidebars describe the many close-up photographs. Readers can even scan QR codes to hear the monkeys or watch videos!

A fabulous addition to any elementary library, sure to be enjoyed from the eye-catching cutie on the front cover to the activity suggestion at the end.

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