Book ReviewsChildren's Books

Book Review: Raising Don: The True Story of a Spunky Baby Tapir

Raising Don: The True Story of a Spunky Baby Tapir

Written by Georgeanne Irvine
Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal
Ages: 6-10
Review by A.B. Greene

Buy It Here.

The charming story Raising Don: The True Story of a Spunky Baby Tapir documents the tale of the first Baird’s tapir born at a zoo in more than 30 years. A “cute watermelon with legs,” Don loves belly rubs, back scratches, and blowing bubbles. Don’t we all?

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Illustrated by photographs, this book delivers an inside account of what raising baby animals in a zoo looks like, which is a careful process made more difficult when Don’s mother is unwilling to do the job, and more sensitive given that the Baird’s tapir is endangered.

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From learning to eat and swim and making friends at the San Diego Zoo to going on a voyage to the Nashville Zoo to start his own family, Don’s story involves an Oscar-worthy supporting cast that includes best bud Bristle the Capybara, his reticent mother Luna, and a team of dedicated wildlife specialists. Even bullies are accounted for (and faced like surly llamas and grumpy guanacos.

Like any good animal book for kids (or kids at heart), the afterword features fun facts about tapirs that culminates into a call to action, as these adorably snouted beasties face threats like loss of habitat, poaching, and climate change.

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