written by Laaren Brown
2016 (Animal Planet)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
All life in the ocean is connected. Tiny plankton are the most plentiful ocean food, and are eaten by bigger creatures. Animals are at the top of the food web aren't hunted-they do the hunting.
A new book series from Animal Planet features animals and their habitats. The first two books detail the lives of ocean and polar animals. There are several aspects of these books that will delight young readers, parents, and teachers. A beautiful two page photographic spread of an animal greets the reader first. This is what you would see in a high-end coffee table book. One unique part of these books is the use of colorful tabs as a guide. The tabs are easily located on the top right side of each spread. Categories include close-ups of animals, data, similarities and differences, and how people interact with animals and their habitats. Where They Live is one tab that begs particular attention because it highlights useful text features such as charts and maps. In Ocean Animals, this is a two page chart of the different levels of the ocean such as the sunlight zone and the twilight zone. Photographs of animals that live in these zones are present with factoids interspersed. Polar Animals has maps of both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles in conjunction with factoids and several photographs. Another favorite section of mine was The Stackup. Several varieties of a particular animal are stacked so readers can compare size and talents. Penguins (chinstrap, macaroni, adelie, gentoo, king, and emperor) are stacked in Polar Animals while whales (beluga, gray, sperm, fin, and blue0 are stacked in Ocean Animals. This would be a great place to practice using organizers like a chart or a Venn Diagram.
With an abundance of luxurious photographs and tons of fun facts, you would think these books are going to be expensive. On the contrary, they are reasonably priced at $12.99. I would have expected a price tag much higher for coffee table-like books that clock in at 80 pages. I could see them being a big hit at a book fair. As a teacher of K-2 writing, I would use this as a mentor text for nonfiction writing. If you are going to tackle projects like All About booklets, this is a good place to talk about and model formatting. Check out these cool activities that you can use with this book:
Your animal lovers (and that would be all of your students) will quickly dive into this exciting new animal series.