How Things Work In the House
written and illustrated by Lisa Campbell Ernst
2012 (Blue Apple)
Source: Orange County Public Library
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How does a banana work? Well, you peel it and eat it. Not that complicated if you are someone like me who may not take the time to look deeply into a subject and appreciate it. This is why people like Lisa Campbell Ernst offset knuckleheads like me. Like other writers of engaging nonfiction, she takes a simple subject and pulls out information previously unknown to most readers. The word banana comes from the Arabic word for finger. A bunch of bananas are called a hand. Each banana in the hand is a finger. Rubbing the inside of a banana skin is believed to relieve the itch of a mosquito bite although my lovely wife points out that leaves banana goop on your skin. I'll take banana goop over itching any day. These are just some of the cool facts you will find in How Things Work In the House. Other items featured in the book include nonliving things like toilets and faucets and living things such as dogs and cats. What kid isn't interested in how a toilet works? Each page has collage illustrations surrounded by labels and facts with procedural text mixed in. How does a teddy bear's arm work? You think you know, but how good would you be at explaining this? Don't worry, this book takes care of the heavy lifting for you.
Next week I'll be teaching my second graders to use fix-up strategies when they lack comprehension. This book will be in my hand because my students will be really intrigued by the subject matter. If I taught kindergarten or first grade and was introducing nonfiction text features, I would use books from the How Things Work series. The text is very accessible and makes a great mentor text for students creating "all about" books in learning how to write informational text.