July 1, 2016

Fur, Fins and Feathers: Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo by Cassandre Maxwell

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:15 am by suebe2

Fur, Fins and Feathers:
Abraham Dee Bartlett and the Invention of the Modern Zoo
by Cassandre Maxwell
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

Even when Abraham Bartlett was a boy, he loved animals. A friend of his father’s owned a menagerie, a collection of giraffes, zebras and tigers.  The animals lived in bare cages while people paraded past.  The man let Abraham take young animals out of the cages.  Abraham watched them closely while he played with them, but he hated having to put them back.  He knew that some of the keepers were mean, the animals didn’t always eat well, and had no way to ammuse themselves.  He wanted them to lead better lives.

He read every book he could find on animals and dreamed of the day he would be able to work with them.  But there were very few jobs with living animals.  He found a job as a taxidermist, preparing animal “specimans,” animal skins, for display.  His lifelike displays caught the attention of the London Zoological Society.  After talking to him, they invited him to be their next superintendent.

“Papa” Bartlett changed the way that zoo animals lived but he also changed the way that the public learned about them.  You’ll want to read the book to get all of the details of this man’s career.

Maxwell is both the author and illustrator of this book.  Her cut paper and media collages bring Bartlett and the animals to life.  I’m not sure but I think my favorite illustration may be Bartlett with the elephant, Jumbo.  The author has also included additional information in the back matter including a detailed timeline.

This is a must have for animal lovers and history lovers alike.  This would make a good story time selection for ages 8 and 9.  Share it to launch discussions about changes in science and animal care as well as history.  But expect to spend plenty of time with the illustrations.  They may very well inspire some cut paper work, so be prepared.


June 17, 2016

Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs by Linda Sue Park, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 4:09 pm by suebe2

Yaks Yak: Animal Word Pairs
by Linda Sue Park
illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Clarion Books

Do you have a young reader who likes to play with words?  Whose altogether punny?  Then pick up a copy of Yaks Yak. Each spread contains a homograph pair — two words that sound alike.  I say “two words” because one is the noun form while the other is the verb.  Although the verb may be a bit advanced that’s where Jennifer Black Reinhardt’s illustrations come into play.

In the spread that features bats, the text is super simple.  “Bats bat.”  Then the art shows five bats in flight swinging baseball bats.  Just in case the young reader doesn’t get all he needs from the illustration itself, cozied into the art work is the definition.  In this case, one of the baseballs is printed with the definition of “to bat.”

This is a great book to use when working with language.  It shows how the meaning of a word is context dependent when it has multiple meanings.  The book will also present a challenge for young word hounds — can you come up with something that is both an animal and a verb but isn’t in the book?  I have to admit that I only came up with one (fly).  I’ll have to do some more thinking on this.

The back matter includes the word origin for both the animal and the action.  My favorite?  To hog which was first seen in Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Fin (1884).

Jennifer Black Reinhardt’s watercolor and ink illustrations do a great job bringing this super simple text to life.  Her animals are happy and silly and do a great job of making the book fun and education vs simply studious.  An excellent choice for bringing language to life.



June 9, 2016

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:09 pm by suebe2

Flying Frogs and Walking Fish
by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

We all have some idea about how animals get from one place to another.  They fly and walk and jet-propel.  That’s right. Animals in water can squirt water to blast themselves away from a predator.

Jenkins and Page discuss these concepts using a variety of animals.  Some like sloths and kangaroos are familiar.  Others, including pangolin and hoatzin, are much less so.  But even familiar sloths can move about in unfamiliar ways (sloth swim!).

The authors lead young readers through these concepts by focusing on one type of movement at a time.  For example, first they highlight walking, staring with an octopus walking across the ocean floor on two legs.  Then, with the turn of a page, young readers get to see more animals that use walking to move around.  While kangaroos and vampire bats are familiar, we don’t think of them as walkers although that’s what they are doing in the book.  Then there are the animals, like the red-lipped batfish that I had simply never heard of before.

If you aren’t familiar with Jenkins and Page’s books, check this one out.  The simple text is brought to life with detailed cut paper collage of each animal.  In all truth, I think my favorite is the octopus.  The image may be static, but in my mind I can picture the arms moving sinuously.  Jenkins just does that good of a job.

Backmatter goes through the types of motion and animals one more time, giving additional detail that can be used by parents and teachers to expand on the lessons in the book.

Pick this one up to share with your class or your own young reader.  But do expect a bit of walking, jumping and tumbling as your listeners strive to act out the various forms of motion.


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