January 15, 2015

Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World by Steve Jenkins

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:58 am by suebe2

Eye to Eye:
How Animals See the World
by Steve Jenkins
Houghton Mifflin

If you have a young reader who is animal crazy, pick this book up!   Not only will your critter enthusiast meet a wide variety of animals, ranging from ghost crabs and gharial to tuatara to tarsier, she will also learn something about the science of vision.

Jenkins doesn’t cover the differences between how predators and prey see the world, he starts out with eyespots and the fact that they tell only the difference between darkness and light.  He explains how pinhole eyes work and the fact that seawater flows freely in and out of the creature’s eye but also the difference between a primitive lens eye and a camera eye.

Different types of eyes evolved because different animals need to see different things and Jenkins goes into this in detail.

He accomplishes the vast majority of this by profiling individual animals.  In the profile of the blue mountain swallowtail butterfly, readers learn about the insect’s ability to see ultraviolet colors invisible to humans as well as the benefits of a compound eye.  The green pit viper reveals the benefits of the pits that allow it to “see” body heat and much, much more.

As always, Jenkins has illustrated his book with collages that combine both cut and torn paper using individual pieces to create everything from the tentacles of the nautilus to the whiskers on a fluffy housecat.

The backmatter for the book gives detailed information on the different types of eyes as well as the 24 animals depicted in the book.  There is also an age-appropriate bibiography for young readers who want more information on the topic.

Although a preschool reader might not be interested in the details about how different eyes work, they would be hooked by the illustrations and the wide range of animals.  Older readers would take this in as well as the science of the eye.

Share this book with your class or your animal-engaged reader and don’t be surprised if you have to read the book multiple times.



March 31, 2014

Mama Built a Little Nest by Jennifer Ward, illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 1:51 am by suebe2

MAMA BUILT A LITTLE NEST by Jennifer WardMama Built a Little Nest
by Jennifer Ward
illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Beach Lane Books

Ask your young readers to draw a bird’s nest and chances are that they will draw a classic nest, a cup of twigs small enough to hold in the palms of your hands.  While that may be the first thing we think of, it certainly isn’t the last word in nests as author Jennifer Ward shows us in this simple rhyming text.

“Mama built a little nest
inside a sturdy trunk.
She used her beak to tap-tap-tap
the perfect place to bunk.”

The books opens with the tree-hole nest of the woodpecker and continues to introduce one unique structure after another.  The material selections range from spider silk to a grouping of stones while the ecosystems span forest, shore and desert.

The main text is styled in a simple rhyme but each facing page has a sidebar insert that goes into more detail including the type of nest (scrape, burrow, etc.) as well as the name of the bird itself.

Steve Jenkins cut paper collage illustrations are a perfect match for this text, bringing visual detail and texture together.  No, they aren’t photographs but young readers would definitely be able to tell one bird from another based on these graphics.

This book is suitable for a wide variety of readers.  At story time with younger children, focus on the main text.  The rhymes are brief, tight and fast-moving for a fun read-aloud experience.  For older children, or to help answer younger children’s questions, include the sidebars.  If you are studying birds and/or nest, this is an excellent source for young readers.  This isn’t a roudy book and ends by tying the nest back into the young readers world — home and bed — making this book excellent for bedtime or cuddle time.

Add this one to your bookshelf for both learning and fun as winter turns into spring.


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