Thursday, February 19, 2015

Feature the Creature #nf10for10

"Nature gives you gifts every day...I'm teaching readers to be open—to stop trying to make everything fit a prescribed view and just live in this world."--Jim Arnosky

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Celebrating Features of Creatures and 

Authors who help us to know them-

never taking any creature for granted! 

Inspired by all of the authors who are sharing their talent by writing non-fiction books about animals, I wanted to select books for my post that teach about the unique gifts animals give us.  I checked out the World Wide Web, book store and public library to research and review the books.  Here are my ten recent favorites that teach about special creatures and their features.

The book Creature Features by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page is fun! Each of the animals explains why it has the unusual facial feature to the audience who is asking the question through letters.  It teaches readers that wondering about animal features is something important to consider.  Reading about each animal's feature piqued my interest in what makes them special and different and allowed me to learn more details about each of the 25.  Here is a link to the website that gives more background information on how the authors collaborated on the creation of the interesting and intriguing book!  I hope you enjoy learning about how the book was made as much as I did!

A Butterfly is Patient by Author Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long.  I love the facts they share with readers about the butterfly by giving it human characteristics all through the story along with the beautiful illustrations.  They have also written other books with a similar format:  A Rock is Lively, A Seed is Sleepy and An Egg is Quiet.  Here is Dianna's website too! I learned about a new gathering of butterflies called a "puddle club"!

How could there be so many interesting facts about baby elephants?  Author, Scientist, and Researcher Caitlin O'Connell tells the story of little Liza, the elephant baby.  She worked with  I learned so much about them by reading this-from their size to the pink coloring on the back of their ears and skin on the underbelly and even the toes.  I really appreciated learning how dependent they are on their family and mothers! And then I read about-

another elephant story, Moses, the True Story of an Elephant Baby.  Moses was being raised by Jenny Webb. I enjoyed learning about how Moses used his trunk to explore nearly everything in his surroundings and even slept under Jenny's cot/bed.  I liked how the author told the story of Moses through his growing after he was orphaned due to his mother being killed by poachers.  There is now an elephant orphanage and it's run by the Jumbo Foundation.  You can read more on their facebook page as well.  Moses' story ends sadly but at least the Foundation work continues...

Born in the Wild by Lita Judge tells all about baby mammals and their parents.  I read this book with my daughter and she enjoyed seeing the gentle illustrations and reading about the animals.  The format of the book is broken in sections which would allow it to be read over days.  It would also be a good book for comparing and contrasting the characteristics of the animal babies.  The end of the story gives additional information about each of the animals.  It has a glossary and sources listed as well as additional websites for information about animals.  Here's a link to an interview with the author for more background on the book...(I loved reading about her advice for budding author-illustrators.)

I truly appreciate the book Ivan the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla because Katherine Applegate told Ivan's true story.  The true story is the plot outline of her award winning Newberry book, The One and Only Ivan (which I could not stop reading the minute I picked it up).  I learned through the true story, that Ivan also had a sister who died shortly after coming to the shopping mall.  The book helps readers realize how Ivan adapted growing up in the human world and did human activities...and how in the end, he was finally treated better.  If you are not yet familiar with either book, I highly recommend reading both-you won't regret it.

I picked this book called Kate and Pippin because it's the remarkable story of a dog who mothers and befriends an abandoned baby fawn.  The pictures help tell the story of how Pippin was left in the wild by her mother and rescued.  The family raised her to help her become stable but let her wonder off into the wild whenever she was ready.  At first, they didn't think she'd come back.  When she did the family was surprised and amazed.  As Pippin grew, she became good friends with Kate and the pictures show how they played and grew together.  Unique to think that Kate (a great dane), who had no pups would adopt Pippin and care for her as if it were her own.  They even have their own Facebook page-
Here's a video to watch to learn more about their adventures!  So cute to see them play together.

I chose to add the story of The Secret Life of Squirrels because I am always amazed at the crazy things squirrels do.  Nancy Rose photographed the squirrels doing unusual things with human props and surroundings-such as mailing a letter as you see on the front cover.  At the end of the book, she also shares tips for photographing wildlife as well as a Q & A session on her work.  I also had to share this video of two squirrels-obviously an adult and a younger squirrel-who needed modeling and encouragement-one of the first videos I used in professional development to show how we all sometimes need intervention from another resource.

Tuesday Tucks Me In is a beautiful story that tells of the love between Luis Carlos Montalvan and his service dog, Tuesday.  Tuesday is the narrator of the story, taking the audience through his daily travels both work and pleasure as Luis' service dog and companion.  He starts out showing readers how he wakes up with his sweet, adorable, dog-loving face through Luis' eyes.  It's incredible how service dogs like Tuesday can do so much for people.  I read this book with my daughter too and she ahh'd and ohh'd at each of the photographs.  Tuesday is such a gift!

This book caught my eye because I have loved Winnie-the-Pooh bear since I was a child. It was written and illustrated by M. A. ApplebyP. R. Hayes.  I had no idea of Winnie's background story...I never really thought about it-which is why I love the quote shared above by Jim Arnosky.  Winnie was a bear from the wild that was adopted by a a soldier during World War I.  They became close unlikely close friends...such a sweet background story.

So here you have ten special gifts in books about animals that will have a lasting impact on all who read them!  Enjoy!

Thank you to Cathy Mere from Reflect and Refine, Mandy Robek of Enjoy and Embrace Learning and Julie Balen of Write at the Edge for hosting this event.  Click on over to the Google+ Community to read more! 

Please feel free to comment and add any special ways you've been able to use these stories in the classroom with students!  Thanks for sharing!


  1. Beautiful list of books! I really want to get my hands on this last one about Winnie the bear. My class adored the picture book about Ivan. We wrote letters: What a book!

  2. I was originally considering an animal list because I loved the Winnie book so much. Your list is delightful, Amy. So many great titles on here, plus quite a few I've yet to read.

  3. I love your book list, Amy, & like others, want to find that one about Winnie-the-Pooh. I've never seen anyone tell about it before. Also, the Lita Judge Born In The Wild must be wonderful. Thanks for all of these. I love Creature Features!

  4. Amy, I love your collection of creature books. Several were new to me so I've been busily requesting titles from our library.

    Thanks for sharing,

  5. Thanks for joining us. I love your theme this year and find so many titles interesting. I need to get Creatures Features, I just started a Steve Jenkins author tub and the Squirrel book looks very interesting.


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