MOTO AND ME: Cuteness Overload

Lynn: Suzi Eszterhas makes it clear that Moto is no pet, but I doubt anyone who reads Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat’s Foster Mom (2017) won’t feel a pang when she releases the serval kitten to the wild.

Wildlife photographer and author Eszterhas was living in Kenya to photograph animals on the Masai Mara wildlife refuge when she got a call from the rangers there. They had found a tiny serval kitten by the side of the road, likely separated from his mother during a fire. Would she be willing to raise and prepare him to survive on his own? Of course she would, and of course she documented the year in photographs.

Have I mentioned how adorable these pictures are? Serval kittens are the very definition of cuteness! Big-eared, big-eyed, and fluffy, Moto absolutely steals the show, whether snuggling with Eszterhas, hunting a stuffed toy, or catching his first mouse. The pictures are more than just cute, however: each is a well-chosen extension of the text that illustrates a point of discussion. This work of narrative nonfiction is an outstanding choice to use in a primary classroom, both to read to the class and be read by emergent readers themselves.

Cindy: It’s a good thing that Eszterhas cautions against raising serval cats as pets, or everyone reading this book might want one. Even with a dead mouse hanging out of his mouth, Moto (Swahili for “fire”) looks adorable. Young readers will be fascinated by the many ways that Eszterhas tries to recreate a wild upbringing for Moto, from brushing him with a toothbrush that feels like his mother’s rough tongue to putting a catfish in a bowl of water to teach him how to fish. She creates a clear picture of the responsibilities required of wildlife rescue. A page of facts about servals is included as backmatter. Public and elementary school libraries need this book. Display it face out, and Moto will sell himself!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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