Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine, illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth


Publisher’s description: What animal would you be if your finger bones grew so long that they reached your feet? Or what if you had no leg bones but kept your arm bones? This picture book will keep you guessing as you read about how human skeletons are like—and unlike—those of other animals.

My thoughts: As soon as I read the e-galley of Bone by Bone, I ordered a copy for our school library. It’s rare to find a book on life science that’s so appealing for very young children, yet has lots to offer for upper elementary kids, as well.

The various fonts are visually appealing without feeling too busy, and delightful illustrations  help readers to imagine what they might look like if they had, say, extra vertebrae (a tail) or finger bones that reached the ground (like a bat’s webbed fingers). The information is delivered in a clear, straightforward manner with a Q&A format that will get kids predicting before each page-turn.

The back matter–sections titled More About Bones and More About Vertebrates, and recommended books and websites for further reading–can all be used for differentiating instruction for kids who want to go more in depth with the information in the book. Struggling readers or English Language Learners can use the illustrations to grasp the book’s main idea.

Although this is an any-time-of-year book, it would be fun to include Bone by Bone in a Halloween display. Highly recommended.

P.S.: Scroll down this post’s comments section for some great ideas suggested by the author herself, Sara Levine.

Hand this book to the kid who:

* is curious about how things work

* loves animals (Bone by Bone‘s author, Sara Levine, is a veterinarian)

* claims to be a budding scientist

* Enjoys “guessing” books with a Q&A format

Use this to teach:

Animal Units–All students in the U.S. study animals and habitats at some point during their elementary school years. Most non-fiction animal books for young children cover the basics: habitat, diet, life cycle, protection, etc.. But if you’re teaching kids to use more than one print resource in a research project, this would give them additional facts not usually found elsewhere.

*Comparing–One of the things I like best about this book is that every skeletal feature that the reader learns about an animal is compared to what that same feature would look like in a human. Older kids can use math to calculate comparisons by percentage. For example, the book tells us that a giraffe vertebrae is 10 inches long. Let kids research how long the average human vertebrae is and calculate the giraffe-to-kid ratio.

*Health–With all of the math, language arts, science and social studies standards that we have to cover in a year, health is that subject on the report card that often gets the short shrift. Using Bone by Bone in the classroom covers language arts, science, math and, that report card step child known as health.

* Non-Fiction Text Features–Introduce young readers to these non-fiction text features from the book: labels, key words in color (vertebrates and non-vertibrates), and glossary

The Nitty Gritty~

Classroom resources and author interview here.

Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group/Millbrook Press

Publication Date: August 1, 2013

ISBN-10: 0-7613-8464-2

ISBN-13: 978-0-7613-8464-9

Number of Pages: 32

Interest Level: K-4

Thanks to Anatastia Suen for creating Non-Fiction Mondays, and to Sally's Bookshelf for hosting today!

Thanks to Anatastia Suen for creating Non-Fiction Mondays, and to Sally’s Bookshelf for hosting today!


Click here for more children’s book recommendations that highlight science, technology, engineering and math!

11 responses to “Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons by Sara Levine, illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth

  1. I can’t wait to read this one! I put together a sheep skeleton when I was a kid and have been collecting bones ever since!

    • Wow, Sue–I’m impressed! This does sound like the perfect book for you. 🙂

      I know that some teachers order owl pellets for kids to take apart in class and sometimes find remnants of mice skeletons–this would be a good book to link to that activity, too.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. My students dissect owl pellets at the end of 5th grade. This is the perfect book for me to introduce during that unit. The kids create skeletons and bone sorting charts with the bones they find in their pellets. Thanks for sharing! Sounds great. 🙂

  3. Great find. Seems like it will be useful in a lot of ways.

    My son did owl pellets in 5th grade, too. He still proudly displays all the mouse bones he found.

  4. Natalie, this is a terrific review. I appreciate everything you pointed out. Bone by Bone is a great find and you are on target with your comment on health education.

  5. Natalie,

    Thank you so much for your kind words about my book. I think the suggestions for teachers are great! I also teach this topic with owl pellets. Another idea that I’ve found works well is Simon Says with bone names: “Simon Says put your hands on your femur. Simon Says wiggle your phalanges.” And so on. Kids have fun with it and pick up the names so quickly. For kids want to explore further, the book Skeletons: An Inside Look at Animals is fantastic. Also, you might want to check out the online materials that go with my book. They are up now (and can be downloaded for free from Lerner web site). There are skeleton outlines of various animals that the kids can color in to see and compare the analogous bones.

    • You’re welcome, Sara! I LOVE the Simon Says twist–will definitely pass that one along as well as the recommendation for Skeletons: An Inside Look At Animals. I’ll go back now and update my post with a link to the resources you now have up on your site. Thanks so much!

  6. You’re welcome! And thanks for posting the link to the resources. I really appreciate that and hope kids will enjoy the activity. I see that I didn’t mention the author of the book I mentioned above: Jinny Johnson.

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