Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

How Many Baby Pandas?

How Many Baby Pandas?

Sandra Markle
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Walker Childrens, 2009   ISBN: 978-0802797834

Adult bears are big, beautiful, and sometimes terrifying. Their babies, when they come into the world, are small helpless little creatures with closed eyes and only a little fur on their bodies. Compared to their other bear cousins, baby giant pandas are truly tiny when they are born. They are no bigger than a hot dog, and have only a thin layer of white fur on their pink skin. It is hard to imagine that these tiny babies will one day grow into a beautiful black and white pandas.

   Occasionally panda mothers give birth to twin cubs. Since the babies require so much care and attention, in the wild one of the twin cubs typically dies. In zoos, these second babies are put into an incubator and they are cared for by human keepers. The keepers rotate the twins so that they both get a chance to be with their mother.

   At first, like human babies, panda cubs sleep a lot, but when they are three or four months old they start to crawl, and a month later they start to climb. Later still they start to play with their mother. The panda cubs that are raised in zoos or at the Wolong Giant Panda Breeding Center in China, get to play with other cubs.

   In this wonderful fact-filled book we get to see how panda cubs grow up and we learn a great deal about their habits and behavior. The author also tells us about the efforts that are being made to save the giant panda from extinction. The text is broken up by wonderful photographs, and it is presented using a kind of counting book format.

   On each spread the author presents young readers with a question which is then answered using the photographs and text. She begins by asking us “How many baby pandas have just been born?” We can see in the photograph below that one baby has just come into the world. Later on in the book she asks us “How many baby pandas are eating?” and in the photograph we see five cubs lying on their backs busily sucking milk out of bottles. The counting ends with the question “How many baby pandas live wild and free?” Unfortunately the answer to this question is “Not enough.” Hopefully the Chinese government and panda fans around the world will be able to save these wonderful bears so that generations of people can enjoy having them on our planet.  

   At the back of the book the author gives readers a lot more panda information, including showing us on a map where wild pandas are found in China.