written and photographed by Beverly and Dereck Joubert
2011 (National Geographic Kids)
Source: Mebane Public Library
Check out Nonfiction Monday at Check It Out
Looking at the cover of this book, you might expect me to focus my discussion on the photographs shot by expert photographers Beverly and Dereck Joubert. The close-up photos are fabulous, but there are other aspects of this book that have me just as excited. First, on page 4 is a great physical map of Africa. I don't often see such features in a book geared toward preschool and primary students so I am duly impressed. This map really gives you a sense of the vastness of the Sahara Desert. What follows are one and two page spreads matching an African animal and a letter of the alphabet. Each section contains an alliterative paragraph full of facts about the emphasized animal. Here is an example of one of my favorites:
Two dung beetles roll dirty dung into a decorative ball as they diligently build their home using their delicate little legs.
These paragraphs are a great resource for teaching language lessons to enliven student writing. You also get a "Did you know?" box in each spread which provides a fascinating fact about the animal. Plenty of familiar animals are presented with a few unfamiliar (kudu, quelea) ones as well. The back matter includes a fact box for each animal with information about habitat, size, food, sounds, and birth. The size information is particularly smart as it compares the animal's size to something familiar to children instead of just giving a number. For example, the size of a tsessbe is listed as about as tall as a pony. Small children have difficulty understanding number measurements, but they may have seen a pony and can make a connection. This section would work well for teaching students how to create a table.
If you teach preschool or kindergarten children, you have to watch the video below.