Keep Up, Katmai: A Book Review

Title: Keep Up, Katmai 
Author: Pili Palm-Leis 
Photographer: Barrett Hedges 
Grade Range: Pre-K to 3 
Publisher: Scholastic Canada, 2019


A once-in-a-lifetime photo shoot becomes a stunning non-fiction picture book!

Keep Up, Katmai is a remarkable up-close view into an inquisitive real grizzly cub’s day, with stunning photographs shot by renowned wildlife photographer Barrett Hedges.

In this unique format, photographs give an up-close view into a very important event in a grizzly cub’s life ― when she learns to fish for salmon with her brothers and sister. Young readers will cheer for Katmai, the smallest of the cubs, as we follow her day. The incredible collection of photos shows how wild bears eat, learn and play, as their mother protects and feeds them. The result? A beautiful introduction to this incredible, endangered species, and a wonderful story celebrating the love between parents and their children.

Back of book material includes a fascinating interview with author Pili Palm-Leis and photographer Barrett Hedges. While anyone would look at these photos and know they are special, an experienced nature photographer would immediately recognize that they also represent a unique shoot. To see a grizzly mom in the wild with four live cubs is almost unheard of. Barrett’s shoot captured behaviour that is very hard to get, especially in the same frame. Thanks to his eye and deep knowledge and respect for the wildlife he photographs, young readers will witness magnificent scenes in nature that most of us would never have a chance to experience.


Do your elementary kids love animals? Animals have always been a popular topic at my house! “Keep Up, Katmai” is a story about a family of grizzly bears (with a rare family of four cubs!). Since grizzly bears are seldom seen in nature, I really enjoyed learning more about them in this book. 

Keep Up, Katmai is a very enjoyable picture book. The writing is excellent and there is a good amount of text on each page. The photography is gorgeous and of very high quality. The photographs showcase an incredible opportunity to view photos of a grizzly family interacting! The photographs were taken by renowned photographer Barrett Hedges. At the back of the book there is a “behind the lens” interview between the author and photographer explaining more about the photographer and his incredible photos. 

The story features the smallest cub, Katmai and her family learning how to fish for salmon. Facts about grizzly bears are naturally woven into the narrative. We learned about how grizzly bear mothers and cubs interact, what grizzly bears eat, how they learn to fish, and more! 

Grizzly bears are an endangered species. Typically when we learn about something and learn to care about it, we also desire to protect it. Teaching our children about protecting and caring for nature is incredibly important. Reading “Keep Up, Katmai” is a good starting point for conversations about endangered species, conservation, and respect for wildlife. 

I really love this book. The photography really makes it stand out to me. I recommend it for anyone that loves animals! 

Although this book was given to me by Scholastic for the purpose of review, opinions are my own.

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