Saturday, February 2, 2008

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?

A. Title: What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?
B. Author: Jenkins, Steve
C. Illustrator: Page, Robin
D. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2003
E. Genre: Picture Book
F. Age Range: Grades k-3
G. Awards: 2004 Caldecott Honor Book

H. Summary: What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? is very entertaining and educational book. This picture book goes over what some animals do with their ears, eyes, mouths, noses, feet, and tails in a very interactive way. The creative pictures of the animals in this book creates a very positive interaction and guessing game with the readers. The last page in the book also offers additional information on every animal in the book!

I. Response: I really enjoyed this scientific picture book as a future teacher and just for enjoyment! This book is sure to grab the attention of elementary age school children, grades k-3 at least. The children and readers are able to have fun while learning knew things and putting their brains to work. Before the author reveals what the animals use the designated body part for, there is a page that shows numerous animals and names a specific body part. I love this aspect of What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? because it opens up all kinds of great discussion opportunities. Children reading this book are able to think through the information given to them and come up with their own ideas on how the animals work. The book also describes what the animals actually use the named body part for. The end of this picture book also has an excellent couple of resource pages. Each animal discussed in the book has a paragraph of information on them in the back. I think this book has the power to get younger children interested in science and animals, and to potentially spark an interest in science that may last much longer than just while reading What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?. Another part of this book that I absolutely love is the illustrations. The illustrations are made out of cut-paper collage and have a layered quality to them. The images have a 3-D effect and almost seem to be popping out of the book because of the layered collage. The different colored and textured papers really added to the overall effect.

I. Teaching Ideas: This books can be applied in the classroom environment in a number of different ways. As a teacher, you could use this book to help introduce a project about animals, characteristics, classifications, etc. The Scholastic website has a large variety of lesson plan ideas, including many that are fine tuned to certain children's literature. The link above takes you directly to a lesson plan entitled "A Planet Full of Animals." This particular lesson plan is aimed at children around the kindergarten age. The objectives are to observe that various kinds of animals have similarities and differences and to sort and classify various kinds of animals. Another lesson plan, available from Scholastic, called "Activity Plan Mixed Ages: Animal Sculptures" combines animals, creativity, and imagination. Another idea for classroom application would be to allow each student to pick an animal, maybe from the book maybe not, and for them to do a project all about the unique survival features of their animal. There are so many possibilities for projects to go along with this book. Furthering investigation similar to that in What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? leads to development in the child's scientific observational skills.

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