Sunday, July 30, 2017


written by Chris Owen; illustrated by Chris Nixon
2017 (Kane Miller)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

You'll have a magnificent time at the zoo...
Just don't wake the panda whatever you do.

In this zoo, an awakened panda is a perturbed panda. What does that lead to? A cacophony of critter cause and effect. It starts with the peevish panda making the hippos extra hyper. This marvelous mammoth mammal in the air is an uproarious illustration. With the hippos hopping, you're going to get tickly termites who torment the toes of elephants. It will also lead to K-2 students giggling during your read aloud. Just giving you a fair warning. A creature kerfuffle like this will also feature animal dancing. Meaning emus and tapirs getting their groove going. And the neighbors will talk and talk. Who are the neighbors? The chimps, ducks, jabirus, and yaks. Not enough of a zoological hot mess for you? How about frogs, baboons, and wallabies beating a beat that just won't stop? The beastly brouhaha continues with singing and dancing by the kingdom that will go on well into the noisy night. So please don't wake the panda.

Full of quick-witted quatrains, Pandamonia offers many opportunities for fun learning. First, I would ask the class to decide who is telling the story. Is it a zookeeper? Perhaps a fellow animal that doesn't like the commotion. Or is it the panda itself? This book could be a great lead for teaching about narrators and point of view. Second, you can pick out particular stanzas and ask students to name a topic that would cover it. Is it dancing? Maybe singing. For older students this touches on main idea and theme. Third, Pandamonia is well-supplied with active adjectives and vivid verbs so you have material for several writing mini-lessons. Teaching a unit on animals? Use the animals mentioned in the book to work on classification. Is it a mammal? A bird? Finally, if your class is going to visit an animal park or zoo, this would be a terrific send-off for that trip. Pandamonia shows animal anarchy can actually be quite useful in the classroom.

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