Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Book Review Club (December 2020)

BOOKS MAKE GREAT GIFTS! Now that I've shouted that loud and clear, welcome to the final edition of 2020 of The Book Review Club! We've written reviews for books we really enjoyed in the hopes of adding to your to-be-read pile and giving you gift ideas. So... (in chrono order): Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever else you may celebrate! Enjoy our reviews!

SAVING MOKA (PB, nonfiction, contemp)

by Georgeanne Irvine 

SAVING MOKA is part of San Diego Zoo's "Hope and Inspiration" children's book series. We're talking heartwarming true stories of San Diego Zoo and Safari Park animals who overcome challenges. Stories that can jumpstart conversations with kids about caring, friendship, determination and more. The writing is delightful and the photographs are divine!

The most recent book in the series is SAVING MOKA, the True Tale of a Rescued Tiger Cub. 

In a Nutshell: A few years ago, a Calif teen was caught trying to smuggle a male tiger cub (5-6 weeks old, about 6 pounds) into San Diego from Mexico. The US Fish and Wildlife Service transported him in a dog crate to the Safari Park where he was checked out by vets and deemed healthy and friendly and very hungry. But...he was also very young, so was moved to the Park's Animal Care Center. Moka ("chance" in Hindi) loved playing with the keepers and chewing on stuffed animals. He settled down for his nap to rhythm and blues and tunes from Frozen. The problem? Moka didn't know how to be a tiger. Enter Rakan ("friend" in Malay), a Sumatran tiger cub whose mom wasn't interested in being a mom anymore.  Rakan flew on Southwest from the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC to San Diego. Within 30 minutes of meeting, the two cubs were fast friends. And guess what? Rakan had been with his mom long enough to know how to act like a tiger. He taught Moka stalking, ambushing, roughhousing, etc. You know, regular old tiger stuff.

Summing Up: SAVING MOKA is about family and friendship. It provides an opportunity to talk about wildlife smuggling. The book is full of incredible photos and fun facts. And there's lots more to the story...Moka gets sick. There's a surgery. But enough with the spoilers. :)

I will tell you that Rakan is still at the Safari Park. Moka is now living at a local sanctuary. The Zoo had agreed to keep him till he was healthy and on his paws, so to speak. He's currently hanging out with a certain female tiger named Nola. Perhaps a tiger romance is in the offing? 

I'd recommend this book for anywhere you find children (schools, libraries, hospitals, home).

Here's a link to the San Diego Zoo. Lots to check out. We're back in lockdown, so the Zoo and Safari Park are closed. But you can watch the live cams (I'm partial to the polar bears). And you can order from the store. There's a two-for-one sale on the "Hope & Inspiration" books. Here's the link to the online store. All purchases support the zoo's wildlife conservation efforts. A noble cause. :)

(Dear FCC: I rec'd a copy of SAVING MOKA from the SD Zoo. I was pretty sure I'd want to review and recommend because I'd already read two other books in the series. And I did.) 

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


Phyllis Wheeler: ECHO MOUNTAIN by Lauren Wolk (historical)

Jody Feldman: FINDING LANGSTON by Lesa Cline-Ransome  (historical)


Lucy Sartain: TWENTIES GIRL by Sophie Kinsella (women's)

Linda McLaughlin: THE ACT OF INHERITING SECRETS by Barbara O'Neal (women's)

Margy Lutz: CHRISTMAS IN NEWFOUNDLAND by Mike Martin (mystery & memories)  

Patti Abbott: MY DARK VANESSA by Kate Elizabeth Russell (literary)

Sarah Laurence: WE WERE THE LUCKY ONES by Georgia Hunter (historical)


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: A PROMISED LAND by Barak Obama (memoir)

Ray Potthoff: D-DAY JUNE 6, 1944 by Stephen Ambrose (history)

Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. I love this! I'm going to have to buy this book asap!

    I shared the link to thei review with the 330+ volunteers at my local zoo, as well as with some animal loving friends. Thanks so much for reviewing!

    1. I just knew you'd love this book (and the others in the series). Thank you for sharing the link.

  2. What a great review! If we had a preschooler in our family, I would buy Saving Moka. My review is posted, but I won't have time to blog visit until Friday. Tomorrow is my last Spanish class and Hanukkah begins that night. I'm looking forward to having more time to read in English and eager to get our club's suggestions in time for the holidays. Thanks for hosting and happy holidays to all!

    1. You're so busy, Sarah. Thank you for getting a review up. Good luck with your last Spanish class and Happy Hanukkah!

  3. Nonfiction books can be just the right thing! So glad you shared this one. I'm glad to know about this series.

    1. I still read more fiction that non, but find I'm reading more and more nonfiction.

  4. Thank you for hosting! I'll keep that one in mind, as you suggest, for the kiddies.

    1. This most recent one, or even other(s) in the series. Each book features different animals. I enjoyed your book review, btw.

  5. Saving Moka sounds like a great book for kids. Alas, there are none in my immediate family.

    Thanks for hosting, Barrie, and Happy Holidays to all!

  6. That sounds like a wonderful book. I remember visiting the San Diego Zoo, but I am more familiar with the Los Angeles one. When I taught elementary school I went with my first grade class each year. I never lost a student, but I did lose a mother chaperone once. Not fun. Bus had to leave in time to do that afternoon school runs. It was a mad dash to find her (I don't remember where we found her, probably the restroom). - Margy


Comments are always welcome!