Sunday, February 3, 2008

"What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?"

Title: What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?
Author: Robin Page
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003
Genre: Picture Book, Informational
Grade Level: K-3

2003 Caldecott Honor Book

Summary: This book gives great information about how animals use their noses, ears, tails, eyes, mouths, and feet. For example, there is a page showing the noses of five different animals. You are supposed to try and guess what each animal is. The next page shows the whole animal and explains what each of them uses their nose for. This is done for each of five body parts listed above. At the end there are even more fun facts about all the animals that are talked about in the book.

Response: This book is a great tool when studying the animal kingdom. Not only is the information accurate, but the students also getting to see very detailed pictures of each animal. I like how the text is written short and simple, and the pictures are very large. I think that the pictures are what really attract children to this book. They are made from paper collages, and are so detailed and colorful. The pages that just show the body parts have huge pictures, and students will really like to investigate them and try to guess what each of them is. This structure of the book allows for a "page turn effect" where students will look at the body parts, guess, and turn the page to find the answers. The other pages, with the entire animal are great, too. Each animal is given a background to match what its natural habitat is. For example, the alligator is shown in the water, and the monkey is hanging from a branch. The illustrations allow for the text to be written in all different ways, which adds to the fun of reading. An example of this is the page that talks about the skunk. The words come out in four lines, as if the text is the stench that a skunk puts off. The pictures do not directly match the text that is written about the animals. The art makes great use of white space. Having white backgrounds on all the pages allows for a separation of the animals. It also makes the colors come alive off the pages. My favorite section of art is the page that talks about eyes. Studying this page, the animals' eyes look real, and they are so big. The illustrations in this book make me think of the art of Eric Carle. I grew up reading those books, and absolutely loved the pictures. The illustrations are much like his, but perhaps even more detailed and more realistic. This book brings great art, a fun reading, and information which are probably why it earned a Caldecott Honor. I know that I will certainly integrate this book into my classroom.

Teaching Ideas: This book is a great way to show students different animals. It can be used in a science unit. When I was learning about animals in second grade, we would read books similar to this. After reading this book to my class, I think I will do the same thing my teacher did. She split us into different groups and each group was responsible for certain animals. One group got amphibians, another got reptiles, etc. We had to make collages of animals, and present them to the class, along with some good information about each. This book would really help students to understand the similarities and differences of animals.

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