Dogs: From Predator to Protector

illus. by Andy Hirsch. 128p. (Science Comics). further reading. glossary. websites. First Second. Oct. 2017. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781626727670; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626727687.
Gr 5–8—How did wolves evolve into the dogs we know and love? Why are canines so varied compared with other species? How do dogs perceive the world? Narrated by Rudy, a chirpy, bandana-wearing pooch, this work of graphic nonfiction takes a deep dive into the world of canines. The jokes and sunny cartoon illustrations featuring tongue-lolling dogs will entice elementary school students. However, the challenging content and intricate sentence structure may stymie these readers. Most of the book is devoted to explaining canine evolution and genetics, including dominant and recessive traits, natural selection, and adaptation. Rudy also covers anatomy, behavior, and the development of breeds. Though the visuals clarify some of the more difficult points, the busy layouts full of text are daunting. The lengthy further reading list reflects Hirsch's meticulous research but contains only titles, articles, and websites that are aimed at adults.
VERDICT Despite its youthful format, this volume is best suited for those with a basic grounding in biology. Middle schoolers seeking a user-friendly guide to read alongside their science textbooks may appreciate it.

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