written by Marilyn Singer
2011 (Early Light Books)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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Caterpillars starts out with a unique feature that I have not seen before in a nonfiction book. Marilyn Singer has crafted a six stanza poem about caterpillars that serves as the table of contents. Each line of the poem serves as a title for a page in the book. The first line of the poem is Caterpillars smooth which corresponds to a page that has a column of text about caterpillar eggs. The next line is Caterpillars hairy which talks about a variety of larvae which have hair or are smooth. Lush photographs accompany each page of text. Several inserts are included which provide a close-up of these captivating critters. The back matter includes a matching game, pop quiz, an abundance of websites for further research, and sections featuring information on anatomy and taxonomy.
Presented in a chronological fashion and neatly tied together, you get a feast of facts in this book. With over 100,000 species of butterflies and moths, there is a lot to know. Caterpillars is a book that can be used for a wide range of grade levels. If you are teaching a unit on butterflies and moths in the primary grades, you can use Caterpillars for several days by sharing one or two pages each day with students. Older students can take information from a column of text and convert it into a graphic organizer like a table, a flow chart, or a Venn diagram. If you are studying scientific names, the taxonomy page is a good primer on this subject. I would also recommend Caterpillars for teaching the skill of contrasting two or more pieces of information.