Monday, March 28, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Prairie Dog's Town

The Prairie Dog's Town: A Perfect Hideaway
written by Miriam Aronin 
(Bearport Publishing) 2010
Source: Orange County Public Library

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The Prairie Dog's Town starts with an account of biologist Vernon Bailey finding a Texas prairie dog town that covered 16 million acres, which is bigger than the state of West Virginia. Right off the bat, we get a "wow" fact which is essential to a good nonfiction book. Another feature you will find are plentiful context clues. Words in bold print like coteries can be understood by reading the words nearby and they are also included in the back matter glossary. A great graphic is always helpful in a nonfiction text, and on page 9 there is an illustration of a prairie dog burrow complete with a restroom chamber. Who knew prairie dogs built their own outhouses? I was particularly interested in reading about prairie dog communication. There are several sounds and body language actions to signify predator warnings and when the coast is clear.

The reading level and short length of the section passages should allow students to focus on researching and not have to worry too much about decoding.  Excellent photographs and back matter features (bulleted lists and tables) will allow for use of graphic organizers as well. Students learning how to use Venn diagrams or double bubble maps could use the More Animal Towns section in the back to compare prairie dogs and muskrats or beavers.

Click on this link for a 2007 Dragonfly TV episode devoted to prairie dog barks. It lasts about 5 minutes.

4 comments:

  1. I have read a couple books in that series. They are well-done. I haven't seen this one yet. Right now we are reading the Bee one. Great blog!

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  2. I agree, this is a well-done series. Have you read the Ants Underground book? Thank you for visiting and for your kind comment!

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  3. I love prairie dogs. And if I recall correctly, they're a cooperative species, right? Working in concert for the greater good? They must be if they can run a town of 16 million acres. Wow!

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  4. The 16 million acre prairie dog town was amazing. They do work together, but they're fairly territorial as well. Thanks for stopping by, Lisa!

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