Title: Actual Size
Author: Steve Jenkins
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004
Genre: Non-Fiction Informative Picture Book
Age Range: K-2 Grade
Summary: This is a book that depicts different animals around the world. Many of them are not well-known. The most important thing is that each animal, or a part of that animal, is illustrated in its actual size. It gives the size of each animal, and at the end of the book there is more information given about each animal that is in the book.
Response: Steve Jenkins does an amazing job with animal books. Earlier, I read What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? which gives students a chance to guess different animals by looking at a section of their bodies. This book takes different animals and shows the actual sizes of a part of their bodies. I kept comparing myself to the parts that were shown. For example, a gorilla's hand is on a page, and you can literally put yours on top of it and see how much bigger the gorilla's hands are. Something I noticed is that I had not heard of many of these animals. Like the smallest fish in the world is the dwarf goby, and it is only 1/3 inch in length. I feel like I learned a lot from this story because it gave information about animals I was not familiar with. I kept wanting to take out a ruler and really measure the animals' wingspan or length. I was really surprised to read some of the facts. Like, the eye of a giant squid is approximately 12 inches across, and they can be up to 59 feet long. While the facts and text are very simple and straightforward, the illustrations are really what make this book amazing. Despite the fact that each one is done in actual size, they are created using cut paper and collage. They give amazing texture and definition to the animals. You can't help but want to touch each picture because they look so real. There is great texture, particularly on the teeth of the shark, each one given a lining of sharp ridges. The colors are bright and bold. Some pictures are small, with a lot of white space in the background that helps it to stand out. Others, such as the bear, shark, and lion, take up both pages. They are large, bold, bright, and they are able to stand out because of their great size. The colors that are used are real to life as well, many being bold and rich. Each animal is given so much detail and attention, they begin to look like photographs, not collages. This book gives so much interesting information, as well as beautiful pictures that can allow for a very interactive read.
Teaching Ideas: This is a great book for children studying animals. Having kids to measure the animals in the book, really see that they are actual to size. This will be a great way to introduce measurement. Also, you can have them to do a report about one of their favorite animals. Or, let them create their own Actual Size book using different objects and presenting different facts about them. http://www.pickbrains.com/articles/animal-facts This website provides students with interesting animal facts that they can use.