Thursday, July 7, 2016

Animal Bites: Farm Animals

Animal Bites: Farm Animals
written by Laaren Brown
2016 (Liberty Street)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Chris the sheep was lost in the Australian outback for six years. When he was finally rescued, his emergency haircut produced 89 pounds of wool-enough to make 30 sweaters. 

If you surveyed preK-1 students and asked them about their favorite nonfiction topics, farm animals would be a strong contender for the top five. Who among us doesn't ooh and aah over a photograph of a fuzzy duckling or a pink piggie? The opening spread in Farm Animals features a duckling and a kitten greeting each other. Ding, ding, ding, I think we have a winner. Cuteness aside, there is plenty of information to supplement the sweetness. Facts are presented with themes such as Where They Live and Big Data. In these sections, readers are given bite-sized (two sentences) paragraphs of knowledge. Learning how humans and animals interact on the farm, we read about a horse having a dental exam and a vet checking a cow's heartbeat. Also given their own two page spreads are ten individual animals. Included are the Plymouth Rock chicken, Texas Longhorn, and Yorkshire Pig. There is a large photograph of the animal with paragraphs pointing out interesting body parts. Did you know there were two types of alpaca based on their hair and that they spit? What kind of sweater can you make from curly hair? Included in these spreads is an area labeled Info Bites. Data about where the animal lives and its size are highlighted with a globe to give a visual and a comparison to a common object. For example, you can find alpacas almost anywhere on the planet and the average one is about the height of a guitar. If only the alpaca could play the guitar, but I digress.

Primary age students will want to visit this farm. With just-right sized pieces of text and appealing photographs, readers will plop this book on their laps and invite their friends to share. They'll put their index fingers under the coolest facts and race to tell any adult or kid within range. And unlike a petting zoo, you won't need any hand sanitizer after reading Farm Animals.

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