Monday, March 23, 2009

What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?

Jenkins, S., & Page, R. 2003. WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS? New York, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0618256288

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS examines how different animals uses their noses, ears, tails, eyes, mouths, and feet. On the first page you see five different types of noses and the reader is asked. “What do you do with a nose like this?” As you flip to the next page the animals’ noses are identified and explained how each animal uses the same body part for many different things. An elephant uses his nose to give himself a bath, where a platypus digs in the mud with his nose. As you read about the each body part you discover things you never knew about your favorite animals and some new animals. It ends with a four page picture dictionary of each animal that is described in the book.

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page have created a fun, interactive informational book with WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS? What is unique about this book is the picture dictionary at the end of the book giving many facts and detail about each animal. I think that most students when they read a book are interested in learning more about the subject but don’t want to do to research, but Jenkins has done that for them. This book is a one stop shop when learning about the difference of thirty different animals. I also appreciate that the authors used familiar and non-familiar animals in this book. Students will be able to use their prior knowledge and gain new information while reading this book.

The information of the book and the drawings of the animals all seem to be accurate. One indicator of the accurate of the book is that it is a Caldecott Honor Book. By getting this award I know that many librarians and other professionals have read and appreciated the illustrations. The only negative aspect I have is that there is no bibliography to cite where the authors got the information from. If students wanted to learn more about the book or animals they would have no way to see where the authors found the information.

This book has a much defined pattern to it. You first try to guess the animals, and then you discover the animals and how it uses its parts. This would be a great book to use in a kindergarten class because the students would be able to pick up the pattern quickly and after several read alouds say the words with you. The picture dictionary would also be a good teaching lesson from this book.

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THIS has a simple design throughout the book. There are only two items on each page of the book: pictures of animals and the text. The text font is easy to read and large enough to see but it is arranged in a unique way. For example, the lizard tail information is spread across two pages and is somewhat vertical. For students still struggling with the idea that font is read from left to right and top to bottom, this would be a difficult book to read.
What is wonderful about the book is the cut-paper collages that make the illustrations. Each animal is so detailed in terms of its mouth, eyes, and surroundings that you really feel like you are looking at the real thing. Yet they are simple enough to where a young child could make a similar illustration using cut-paper. I also think that authors had a theme in terms of the color of each animals and where they placed them in the book. The sections on tails all have bright colored animals on the page, and the ears sections have more dull color animals. The illustrations of this book are wonderful which makes me understand why it was given the Caldecott Honor Award in 2004.

* School Library Journal- “Jenkins… has created yet another eye-opening book. Children will learn that lizards can completely break off their tails as a defense and that it will grow back. And, they’ll find out crickets’ ears are on their knees.”
* Booklist- “Jenkins handsome paper-cut collages are both lovely and anatomically informative, and their white backgrounds help emphasize the particular feature, be in the bush baby’s lustrous, liquid brown eyes or the skunk’s fuzzy tail. This is a striking, thoughtfully created book with intriguing facts made more memorable through dynamic art.”
* Kirkus- “Not only does Jenkins again display a genius for creating paper-cut collage wildlife portraits with astonishingly realistic skin, fur, and feathers, but here on alternate spreads he zooms in for equally lifelike close-ups of ears, eyes, noses, mouths, feet, and tails.
*Randolph Caldecott Medal Honor Book 2004

* Discuss the picture dictionary in the back of the book and have students pick one animal from each section to create their own picture dictionary. Students can draw animals and list three facts about each one.
* In a science lesson go into further details about what makes animals different from each other, weather it is their environment, how they reproduce, or diet habits.
* Read other books by Steve Jenkins:
- ACTUAL SIZE. ISBN 9780618375943

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