Sandra Markle / Millbrook Press / 40 pages
Performing noninvasive studies of wild animals can be tricky. The task becomes even more challenging when the subject of the study mainly lives in the canopy of the rainforest—nearly 100 feet above ground. The Woolly Monkey Mysteries takes readers on a journey to Manu National Park in the Amazon Basin, where camera traps are installed to learn more about an elusive species: the woolly monkey. How many woolly monkeys are there? What role do they play in protecting the rainforest? Scientist Ruthmery Pillco Huarcaya seeks answers to these questions and more.
The lives of these elusive monkeys have long been a mystery. Through the story, we learn that these magnificent animals act as the gardeners of the rainforest. Their diet consists mainly of fruit from the rainforest canopy, but they are unable to digest the fruits’ seeds. Their waste spreads fruit seeds, which eventually grow into young trees. As the story notes, woolly monkeys are considered a keystone species because they are so vital to the rainforest’s ecosystem.
As with most studies, learning more about a species leads to even more questions about them. How is climate change impacting their range? How are they affected by rainforest fragmentation? These remaining questions point to of the importance of continuing such research, as ensuring the survival of this species is critical to the survival of the rainforest.
A former elementary school teacher, author Sandra Markle uses innovative techniques to intrigue readers. QR codes in the book take readers to sound clips of the monkeys vocalizing and videos from the study, while informative graphics and beautiful imagery allow readers to step into the shoes of a scientist studying woolly monkeys.
The Woolly Monkey Mysteries would entertain readers of all ages but would be particularly enjoyable for elementary-school-age children interested in learning about wild animals.