Red Pandas, by Joshua Rutten
This book is pretty easy to enjoy, at least most of it. It has a large page size, all the better to see large pictures of the small animals known as red pandas, to look at their facial expressions and to see the way that they scan their world while holding secure to branches of trees. The red panda, like many animals, is an easy animal to appreciate and love. And why wouldn’t that be the case? They eat mostly bamboo as well as other leaves and the occasional insect, they look like raccoons except that they are red and not bandits, and they have the glamour of being the official animal of the state (and former nation) of Sikkim. Yet while this book is certainly enjoyable, it is not quite as good as it could have been had the book focused more on the animal itself and fewer aspects of the human context such as efforts at speculation on the relationship of Red Pandas to other creatures as well as the push for environmentalism that the book makes at its end. In fact, it appears as if this may be a trend within the books on the animals as a whole, which would be lamentable if the case.
This book is a short one at 32 pages. It features a variety of unnumbered chapters, though, that each include a few pages which mostly focus on pictures along with supporting text. The book begins with an introduction of the red panda, presumably for readers who are not familiar with them. After that comes a discussion of the red panda’s distant relations with more famous pandas. After this there are chapters which deal with how red pandas look (which is like a red raccoon), as well as where they live (in South and Southeast Asia), as well as what they eat (which is mostly bamboo as well as other leaves and insects). This is followed by a chapter on how red pandas are born, and that is blind and nearly helpless for a couple of weeks. After that there is a chapter on the enemies of the red pandas and then a call to save the red panda by the reader. After this environmentalist call, which somewhat marks the book, the book ends with an index and glossary.