We finally left mammals behind in our science studies a few weeks ago and are now focusing on birds. We do a fair amount of nonfiction reading most weeks, but when I can sneak in some fun fiction picture books, I do that, too. One thing I noticed as I was searching the browser bins at my library is that there are lots and lots of books with birds (primarily ducks and chickens, it seems) as the characters. I’m not sure why that is, but it works for us. 🙂
When Chickens Grow Teeth, an adaptation by Wendy Anderson Halperin of a story by the nineteenth century French writer Guy De Maupassant, is funny and charming. It’s the story of a “large, laughing man” named Antoine who lives in a small French village. He is a café keeper and very gregarious. His wife, on the other hand, is not. Madame Colette’s temperament is compared to that of a wild boar, and she and Antoine are often at odds over what she judges as his laziness. Their relationship worsens when Antoine falls from a ladder and is bedridden–now he is altogether useless in Colette’s mind. Colette, though, does find a job for Antoine to do, and it’s one he vows he won’t do: become a substitute brood hen for Colette’s flock of chickens. You can imagine how funny this seems to kids. We all had a big chuckle over this one. It reminds me of this limerick by Edward Lear, probably because in the story Antoine has a long, Santa Claus-ish beard. Wendy Anderson Halperin not only adapted this story, she also illustrated it, and the illustrations are gorgeous–very detailed and expressive, with lots of panels and action per page. I’ve written about her illustrations before, and they really do bear a second look. Visit her website for a sampling of her talent.
I’ve looked and looked online for a graphic of the cover of this next book, but I can’t find one. I can’t resist sharing it anyway. Egg Storyby Anca Hariton is one of those picture books that contains a good dose of factual information that is disguised by a fun story. This one is simply the story of an egg and how it becomes a chick. It contains a very gentle explanation, with just the right amount of information for older preschoolers or young elementary aged children. I’ve read brief reviews of Hariton‘s illustrations in various places online, and they’re usually described as “European.” (I think Hariton is Romanian.) I’m not sure what that means, other than I think the illustrations are simple and warm. This book is worth looking up if you’re studying birds.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Gail Gibbons’ Ducks! in this post. I’ve written about Gail Gibbons, whom I consider the Queen of Juvenile Nonfiction, and her books before here and here and here , but for a bibliography, check here and here on her website. Ducks! is classic Gibbons, with all sorts of factual information about ducks in general and the many different species of ducks. We learned the difference between dabbling ducks and diving ducks, as well as many facts about the life cycle of the ducks, etc. This is just a good title for an introduction to the animal.
I’m not sure what it is about penguins, but they are also a popular topic for children’s picture books. In fact, I’ve blogged about penguin books a couple of times before (here and here), and it was from Janet‘s comments in one of those posts that I learned about A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis. This is a fun story about a little penguin named Edna who wants some color in her black, white, and blue world. She finds it, of course, but where she finds it surprised and amused me. I love an unexpected ending! This book reminds me of 365 Penguins, just like Janet suggested. 🙂
This last book pulled double duty at the House of Hope this week. I love it when books go cross-curricular! 🙂 Lulu and I were talking about large numbers during her math time, and she is intrigued by the concept of a million. I found it difficult to explain to her what a million is, and to be honest, I don’t think I quite grasp it myself. I recently became an Usborne consultant (shameless plug: here’s my site, should you need any Usborne books 😉 ), and one of the books that came in our first box is How Big Is a Million? by Anna Milbourne. This is a sweet book about a little penguin named Pipkin who goes after the answer to the title question. Of course, it is his wise mama who takes him outside to answer this question at the end of the story. In order for the reader to see the answer, he or she must open an envelope at the back of the book and take out a huge poster. On the poster is printed a million stars. This is a very effective way for young children to get a glimpse of the enormity of a million of anything. That this book happens to be about penguins is merely a cute bonus. 🙂
Last week we ended our school week with an art activity based on this lesson from Deep Space Sparkle. We used tempera paint on watercolor paper, and I’m not sure this was the best medium for this activity. We enjoyed it, though, and that’s what’s important! 🙂
Well, I could go on and on about birds, but I won’t, at least this week. 😉 I will simply leave you with a list of (even more!) related links:
- our recent trip to observe ducks
- review of audiobook: Mr. Popper’s Penguins
- my girls held a hummingbird!
- a review of yet another great bird book (this one by Kevin Henkes)
Link up your Read Aloud Thursday posts below!