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Tiny Creatures introduces us to the world of the microbe. What are microbes? Where are they found? What do they do? Nicola Davies’ text answers these questions in an engaging, accessible way that left me filled with wonder. She’s particularly good at finding wonderful similes to help us understand this world-under-a-microscope. For example, on this page, she compares the number of microbes found in the spoonful of dirt pictured in the upper left corner of the page to the number of people living in India. An unforgettable image that makes her point handily!

 

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This book engaged both tiny and big readers at my house!

Tiny Creatures: The World of Microbes by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Emily Sutton. Candlewick: 2014

 

“Who taught you to do things? Your parents and others who care about you were your first teachers. Who teaches animals?”

Each spread of this book explores a different animal which has to learn a survival behavior after it is born. It’s a layered text–you can read just the large font text and have it make sense, but the small font text adds information and depth. And each spread ends with questions inviting the listener to apply the text to herself:

Are you a good singer? Who sings to you?

The paper in this book is luscious to touch–thick, slightly textured. Beautiful. Are Blue Apple Books always so satisfying to hold?

Animal Teachers by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Katy Hudson. Blue Apple: 2014.

 

best noses

Sorry, we don't have that EAN, yet In this inventive nonfiction picture book, each page is written in the voice of an animal who is arguing about why its nose (or ear or eye) is the “best.” These are great examples of persuasive writing, and along the way we learn a lot about how animals specialize to fit their individual environmental niches.

This form begs to be replicated: choose another animal or another body part, and make your best argument. It would be a great mentor text when teaching persuasive writing, or even a fun springboard for dinnertime debate.

This book is a translation from the Swedish.

The World’s Best Noses, Ears, and Eyes by Helen Rundgren, translated by Helle Martens, illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius. Holiday House: 2013.

a

 Despite the title, this book doesn’t have anything to do with school or classes (check out Snow School if you’re looking for an animals-school comparison). Instead, it’s a clever rhyming picture book outlining the different characteristics of vertebrate classes: amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles.

Lord uses rhyming couplets, each with 7 or 8 syllables. She establishes a strong rhythm that carries throughout the book. In fact, when I closed this book and opened the next one on my stack, it took me several pages to stop trying to wrest those (prose) lines into her very chant-able rhythm.

There’s lots of great information packed into her rhymes. Did you know, for example, that mammals, “People, rabbits, even deers,/all of them have stick-out ears”?

A handy chart in the back matter lays out for you the characteristics she’s covered, an exception to the common characteristics, and some of the species in each class.

Animal School: What Class Are You? by Michelle Lord, illustrated by Michael Garland. Holiday House: 2014

 

“Birds and feathers go together, like trees and leaves, like stars and the sky.”

Melissa Stewart’s lyrical voice makes this information-packed book a great read aloud. The layered text structure is elegantly simple. Each spread compares a function of feathers to something in a child’s frame of reference–“Feathers can shade out sun like an umbrella”–and then smaller print (the second layer of text) explains that sweeping generalization in greater detail.

The first layer of text is very short–only about 175 words–but it provides a perfect framework for understanding all the information packed more densely in the second layer of text.

In the back matter, Stewart talks about the scholarly articles about feathers that first piqued her interest and about her struggle to find the right structure for this information.

Feathers: Not Just for Flying, by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Sarah S. Brannen. Charlesbridge: 2014.