Today for Nonfiction Monday, I'm looking at samples from two animal fact series for younger readers and listeners.
The first, Have You Ever Seen an Octopus with a Broom? is one of the "Have You Ever Seen" series, which compares and contrasts animal and human behavior. This specific volume talks about tools and shows how octopi clean their homes, herons fish, chimpanzees clean themselves, otters crack shells, and more. The text is simple and explanatory, with a repeated form "have you ever seen a --- with a ---? That's silly", then a brief sentence about how a human uses a tool and a short paragraph on the corresponding animal behavior. I wasn't particularly thrilled with the illustrations; they felt dark and forced and the human faces, in particular, were odd. They all have large brown blobs for noses. There is a simple game you can play with the endpapers, but no other additional material or sources.
Verdict: If you need more animal fact series for a younger audience, the text is interesting, and others may enjoy the illustrations more than I did.
Have You Ever Seen an Octopus with a broom? by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Jeff Szuc
ISBN: 978-1554532476; Published September 2009 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates
I've seen a few reviews of this second series, Who Lives Here?, which talks about the animals that live in various habitats (I know, they call them biomes or some such thing nowadays, but I grew up saying habitats). I've lusted after the Forest Animals volume in particular, which features a chickadee on the cover. I am very fond of chickadees. I was pleased to see this series definitely deserves the positive reviews and I hope to add the rest of the series to my library soon. The book begins with a simple explanation of a Savanna then describes a series of animals, including elephants, giraffes, meerkats, ostriches, and the black mamba. There is a simple vocabulary exercise in the back and a more detailed explanation of savannas for parents and teachers. The art is simple but realistic. Each spread shows a large picture of the animal, corresponding with its description, then three small inset circles showing a particular part of the animal and more facts; for instance, the zebra shows a close-up of its teeth, stripes, and a baby zebra.
Verdict: The simple text, easily divided, is excellent for use in storytime or for simple homework assignments. Children who enjoy animal fact books will be happy with this simple but engrossing series. Strongly recommended!
Savanna Animals by Deborah Hodge, illustrated by Pat Stephens
ISBN: 978-1554530731; Published August 2009 by Kids Can Press; Review copy provided by the publisher through Raab Associates