written by Beth Fielding
2011 (Early Light Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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Take a minute and check your background knowledge on tails. First, you don't have one and neither do I. Second, you know that animals use their tails for several purposes. They communicate with other animals, hang on tree branches, swat flies, and use them for balance. But did you know that some male lemurs transfer smelly oil from their wrists to their tail and then throw their tail at other males? Fourth grade boys aren't the only male living creatures to do weird things when girls are involved. How about chameleons unrolling their tails and cracking them at other chameleons like a whip? Kind of like your older brother snapping his towel at you at the community pool. Using fun facts and vibrant photographs, Animal Tails will introduce readers to information old and new. Author Beth Fielding has also included experiments (I think the stuffed animal idea would be a big hit in class.) and advanced vocabulary (e.g. prehensile) to further engage young readers. Like cool extras on a DVD, Tail Talk gives even more facts in the back matter.
Books such as Animal Tails are extremely important in helping children understand that we live in a fascinating world. The more you know about it, the more you care about conserving it. If you have access to other Early Light books, students could create booklets featuring their favorite animals and their unique body parts. Animal Tails is also a good source for text to use in teaching how to spot and write nonfiction main ideas. You could write this lead sentence from the book on the board: Stingrays may win the prize for the scariest tails. Then, read the rest of the page to see how the author supports this opinion. In the new Common Core standards, this is an important skill for children to master.