The Search for Olinguito: Discovering a New Species is aptly named. Sure, it’s about a big-eyed, cuddly mammal. And the book is full of photos that will make you fall in love with the olinguito. But the emphasis in the book is on the scientific work that went into that discovery.
The book tells the blow-by-blow account of the scientist who first started to suspect that the olinguito might be a separate species and not just a different kind of a mammal the world already knew. Then we watch him assemble a team to test his hypothesis and see how each member of his team plays a specific role. My favorite part of the book was when, after they’d satisfied themselves that they had found a new species, they tried to publish their results:
“They submitted it to a scholarly journal for publication to share the news. A number of experts checked the report, and it was rejected.”
The scientists get back to work and spend another seven years researching and strengthening their argument before their work is finally published.
As I do school visits, I’m always surprised by how fascinated kids are in how long it takes to publish a book. I think this book, with its emphasis on the scientific process, complete with occasional rejection, will fascinate kids, too.
I was fascinated to see that the Source Notes are all from telephone calls the author made to various scientists involved in studying the olinguito. This book will feel to readers like their own conversation with these scientists.
The Search for Olinguito: Discovering a New Species by Sandra Markle. Millbrook Press: 2017.