Saturday, September 2, 2017


written by Brady Barr
2017 (National Geographic Kids)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

I asked the engineers at National Geographic to build me a Dynamometer. (That's a fancy word for bite-force meter.) On every expedition, I took along my trusty dynamometer and measured the bite force of animals I encountered. 

Brady Barr is a herpetologist and an animal expert with National Geographic. He seeks to know more about animals in order to help them. One of his passions is to measure the bite force of animals. Okay, probably not what most of us would choose to do, but it's valuable work. This has led him to create a book that focuses on how and why animals bite like they do. There are four groups in the text: Grippers, Slicers, Crushers, and Gulpers. The first group, Grippers, use their teeth to stop an animal in their tracks with a ferocious bite. There's a wide variety of animals in this group including land animals like lions, jaguars, and Tasmanian devils and also water animals like tiger sharks and gharial crocodiles. Each featured animal in the book receives a two page spread. On the spread, you'll get an introductory text box titled Meet the Beast. What's on the Menu tells you the favored foods of the animal. Bite Force gives a measure of the bite in pounds while By the Numbers tells how many teeth the animal has. Finally, Bite Business gives a detailed description of the animal's bite. As a teacher, I really like this because you open a world of compare and contrast opportunities. If you're familiar with Robert Marzano's research, that's an effective way to learn information and boost achievement. I also think this will be great for working on creating tables to present facts in a presentation and it's a good example of how you can design an informational text. I like the consistency of the features in each section. My favorite part of this book? The stories. Brady Barr tells some fantastic ones in Chomp! Each chapter starts out with one. We're talking "I have to share this with my friends and I'll never ever forget these" kind of stories. I guarantee that you won't think of otters in the same way after reading this book. In the classroom, you could use these as unforgettable examples of personal narratives.

Be aware. Chomp! is not for the fainthearted. Which means it's perfect for 3rd-8th grade readers. If you have the stomach, it is a fascinating study of an important part of animal life.

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