Gr 3–5—Concise and informative, these books examine why certain animals were—and still are—useful to people, be it for their strength, skins, or other bodily characteristics. The animals' impact on trade and industry are covered, as are their natural habitats and life cycles, but above all, the titles establish links between these creatures and aspects of history (entry into the New World, westward expansion, the Gold Rush, the Industrial Revolution, and more). Colorful, well-curated illustrations consist of historic drawings and paintings and modern-day photographs. The maps depicting the natural range of the animals, then and now, are particularly informative, as they show at a glance how the animal populations have grown or diminished over the course of a couple of centuries (the few colorful dots that represent modern-day presence of bison in the United States and Canada is a striking contrast to the broad swath of color that represents the ubiquity of bison 100 years ago). A delightfully unique approach to history.