Hosie’s Alphabet by Hosea Tobias Baskin, Ill. by Leonard Baskin

Hosie’s Alphabet by Hosea Tobias Baskin, Ill. by Leonard Baskin

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Publishing: Viking, New York, 1972.

Awards: 1973 Caldecott Honor

Description: This alphabet book goes through all sorts of different living things, from protozoa to a vulture to a heron. (I’m not sure how the gargoyle, unicorn or demon fit in though…) Each verso has text of a varying size and font, in a different placement. The accompanying recto has an illustration of the object done in watercolor. Some are full-page, others are not. Some of the objects have adjectives in front of them: “ghastly, garrulous gargoyle” etc. Others do not. I did some very quick searching but am still unclear on “Hosie’s Heron.” Is this a specific breed? A nickname? I’ll have to figure it out before using this book.

Programming: typical alphabet tie-in, possibly good for teaching adjectives, good for talking about different types of animals. Have students create their own alphabet letters with animals they drew?

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The Desert is Theirs by Byrd Baylor, Ill. by Peter Parnall

The Desert is Theirs by Byrd Baylor, Ill. by Peter Parnall

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Publishing: Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1975

Awards: 1976 Caldecott Honor

Description: Baylor tells about the “desert people”-the Papagos Native American tribe that lives in the desert. Written almost as poetry, it talks about the tribe’s culture, the animals and environment of the desert, and how both animals and people learn to adapt to it. The illustrations have lots of white space, they are line drawings with sparse, but bright colors.

Programming: This could tie-in to the study of different environments and how people live in them. Students might contrast this book, for example, with the experience of the Inuit living in the tundra. They might learn to do a rain dance just as this tribe might. There is also a lot of emphasis on animals in Native American culture, so they might learn about totem or spirit animals and decide what their own spirit animal might be and talk about what qualities they think they share with the animal.

Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins, Ill. by Vicky White

Can We Save the Tiger by Martin Jenkins, Ill. by Vicky White

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Publishing: Candlewick, 2011.

Description: Though the title only mentions the tiger, this book discusses the possible extinction and rarity of many different species. Jenkins divides these species by the status of their existence (already extinct, saved from extinction but still rare, etc) or by the cause of their problems (extinct/rare because of other predators, extinct/rare because of human consequences, etc.). Jenkins covers all different types of species. The illustrations are mostly black and white, and each animal has facts displayed next to it, such as the animal’s breeding habits, number in existence, and places it is found. The back has a somewhat sparse index and a list of websites with further information.

Programming: This would be a great book to care with Kakapo Rescue by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop because it mentions this very rare bird. With all of the online resources, students might be interested in tracking more up to date information about how many of each species there are. They could make a list of reasons that these animals are endangered or extinct and see if there is anything they can do to help reverse this. They might even plan a trip to the zoo and talk about which species are there because they are endangered.

The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

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Publishing: Little, Brown, and Company, New York, 2009

Awards: Caldecott Medal Winner (2010)

Description: This wordless book retells Aesop’s fable of the Lion and the mouse, in which the lion sets his tiny prey go free and the mouse returns the favor by saving the lion from a poacher’s net. Despite the lack of words, this is a rich telling, with setting and background details conveyed in the illustrations.

Programming: It would probably be a good idea to read some of Aesop’s other fables for comparison and to discuss the lessons that each is supposed to teach. I have seen some very cute lion’s masks that can be made from paper plates and construction paper. Students might also write a time when someone helped them or when they helped someone.

In the Wild by David Elliott, Ill. by Holly Meade

In the Wild by David Elliott, Ill. by Holly Meade

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Publishing: Candlewick Press; Somerville, MA; 2010

Description: Elliott has written a series of very short poems, each about a different wild creature.

Programming: This would be a good book to read during April for poetry month, or as part of a poetry unit. Students could discuss the rhyme scheme or type of poem for each creature. They could also read another book with animals and poetry, such as Antarctic Antics, which is a series of poems just about penguins. Students could write their own acrostic poems about an animal of their choice.

Hip-Pocket Papa by Sandra Markle, Ill. by Alan Marks

Hip-Pocket Papa by Sandra Markle, Ill. by Alan Marks

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Publishing: Charlesbridge; Watertown, MA, 2010

Awards: ALA Notable Children’s Book 2011

Description: This book shows the fascinating process of how the hip-pocket frog must get their offspring from conception to independence. The male hip-pocket frog does this by carrying the tadpoles in his hip-pockets until they are ready to be on their own.

Programming: There is more research that could be done about these frogs and other types. There is also a glossary in the back of the book for the other wildlife mentioned. Finally, the book mentions Australia, so students might learn about the climate of Australia and how their summer and our winter are opposites.

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

Oh, No! by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann

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Publishing: Random House, New York, 2012

Awards: 2013 ALA Notable Children’s Book

Description: Animals keep falling into a very deep hole. First a frog, then a mouse, a monkey, bear, etc. Eventually a tiger comes along and sees the animals stuck in the hole and is going to make a meal of them. To the animals rescue comes an elephant, and in the commotion the animals get out of the pit and the tiger is knocked in. When he asks to be pulled out, the animals reply, “Oh, no!” The text is pleasingly repetitive, it almost reads like a song.

Programming: Because of the many characters and repetitive nature, this would be a good book for a felt board or a reader’s play.