Curious Critters

June 25, 2014

Tammy Shultz and I present our top book picks of the year. I always have a difficult time narrowing my choices; there are many books to choose from. We do not necessarily choose the newest books (Donalyn Miller keeps me updated). We choose books that have appealed to our kids this past year. Curious Critter is a book I loved. It’s funny and the kids react to the creatures talking to them. I had it on my slide show when I reviewed last year’s books; I realized Tammy had shared it as her book last year. Makes sense. Great book!

Curious Critters is a nonfiction text with voice! I was drawn to the captivating descriptions and features of the creatures. David FitzSimmons illustrated the photographs on a white background, emphasizing the details of the critters. A website features the critters. Click here to see what’s new.

His second book, Curious Critters Vol. 2, is available. When you click on the title, the link will allow you to preview a few pages. Fascinating!

View the YouTube video (1:20 second) book trailer. Your students will be intrigued!

Savorings for reading and in writing for Curious Critters:

  • Point of View – the critter talks to the reader
  • Voice – The goldfish says, “Let’s play a game: I’ll flip my fins and swim around in this aquarium, and you throw in some food. Sound good? Great?”
  • Humor –
  • Allitoration – decorating daisies
  • Transitions – one creature will connect to the next


Why Are Animals Purple?

November 4, 2013

Fall is here with all its brilliant colors. I’m amazed at the reds, yellows, oranges mixed with the changing greens and browns. Purple is not a color I often see here in Indiana, although I suspect it shows its shade as well. With the focus on colors, the book, Why Are Animals Purple?, intrigued me. This book is one of several in a series of animal colors by Melissa Stewart.

Purple animals? I thought. I am not sure if I have seen any animal dressed in purple until I turned to the first featured animal – Purple Martins. My dad had one in our yard and taught me about these helpful birds. Do you know they eat 1000 mosquitos daily? Around lake areas, these bird hotels sprinkle the skyline.

Eleven other animals are featured in her book. Key vocabulary, such as predators and attract, are in bold print, repeated distinctly throughout the entries. The photographs zoom in features and allow the reader to be up close and personal. Children will be drawn to this book and learn how color camoflages and defends each in nature.

A 2 minute Youtube video about how Melissa Stewart got her ideas from nature for two of her books.

Savorings in reading and for writing for Why Are Animals Purple?:

  • Vocabulary
  • Thematic Map – at the back of the book, a map represents where each animal can be found
  • Question Lead
  • Personifies the Color Message – It says, “Stay away. This is my home.”
  • Links to websites and other book references for further research

Animals in Winter

January 6, 2012

Tanja Askani provides a home for injured animals. I blogged about her book, A Friend Like You.  Her brilliant photographs are breath-taking. As I researched Tanja, I came across some brilliant videos of animals in winter.

To introduce animals in the elements and bring the wild to your classroom, view Tanja’s YouTube video.

After visiting Florida over Christmas break, we were met with beautiful snow. Although the snow is beautiful, I much prefer warm sunshine. I was reminded of the book, Stranger in the Woods by Carl R. Samms II and Jean Stoick. With a smile, enjoy the winter season.


January 24, 2009

My daughter loves elephants.  She collects different stuffed animals and reads about them.  When I found the book, Elephant’s Story, I began to think of Eliz.  Harriet Blackford is a zoologist and has created a delightful nonfiction narrative to create background knowledge of the elephant.  she introduces the African savanna elephant and their family behavior.  The reader is introduced to the central character, a baby elephant.  Manja Stojic catches the reader’s attention with her paintings.

Harriet Blackford creates scenes that children will connect with.  Feelings are inferred, such as being scared.  “The bank is high and she cannot see her mother.  For the first time in her life, she is alone.  Elephant squeals with fright.”  elephant also feels a sense of belonging and safety with her mother and herd.  “Elephant’s mother strokes her baby all over to help her feel safe again.”

Savorings for reading and in writing for Elephant’s Story:

  • Background knowledge of the elephant
  • Connections  – elephant’s behavior and children’s behavior
  • Inference
  • Informational text at the end
  • Animal characteristics – “Elephant is born on the vast African savanna, a tiny wrinkly baby with big floppy ears and a most extraordinary nose.”