What did the hunter do when he saw a leopard?
He shot him on the spot.
It's an old joke, not that good, and not applicable when talking about the snow leopard, an animal about whom our knowledge is sketchy. This collaborative effort by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop takes them to remote reaches of Mongolia, the Gobi Desert and the barren mountain habitat of snow leopard and ibex.
The expedition of a few hardy souls unfortunately experiences few snow leopard sightings, mostly near misses, pings of tracking devices, and scat, lots and lots of scat. It's all part of a group effort to preserve the numbers of snow leopards that still exist, monitor their numbers, and to convince Mongolians of the importance of the snow leopard's survival.
For the middle school reader this is a book to fascinate, to motivate, to inspire. A motivated reader will eagerly soak up the content of this richly endowed book. The reluctant reader may be motivated by the breathtaking photos and the incredible descriptions of a remote and exotic land. Reading about and seeing photos of a ger (a Mongolian dwelling) being constructed is worth the price of admission alone.
There's much to be learned from this book, so many topics explored: nature, environment, biology,zoology, geography, history, sociology, and on and on.
As an adult reader I was left with an appetite for more, as if I'd just eaten a Lean Cuisine frozen meal. Tasty but not quite enough. A younger reader should find Saving the Ghost of the Mountain very satisfying and thoroughly enjoyable.