cover image Pi-Shu the Little Panda

Pi-Shu the Little Panda

John Butler. Peachtree Publishers, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56145-242-2

Butler (Little Sibu) turns the spotlight on another endangered species in this tenderly delineated tale of a baby panda, his mother and their quest for a peaceful habitat. Beginning with Pi-shu's birth (""He was no bigger than one of the patches around his mother's eyes""), Butler tracks the little panda's adventurous first year, shedding light on its diet (bamboo) and fellow creatures, including ""frogs that jumped when he sniffed them"" and golden monkeys that he follows down the mountainside. The author also hints at the panda's disappearing habitat when ""a smoky smell warned him to stop"" and he sees men clearing away timber. Mother and cub then make the trek over the snowy mountains to a remote valley, their new home. Butler's simple story line effectively relates basic information (expanded on in an afterword) while remaining true to the animals' nature, but it's the artwork that takes center stage. Although a few images border on the excessively cute (the animals, for instance, all appear to be smiling), the lush details on uncluttered backgrounds perfectly capture sweeping vistas as well as the tiniest fern frond. Butler also compellingly outlines the intimacy between mother panda and the irresistibly bright-eyed Pi-shu. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)