There’s a lot packed into these 31 pages–a comic-style layout, sidebars with quick facts about the featured animals, running jokes from the peanut-gallery sports fans and event participants–yet it doesn’t feel too crowded or overwhelming. Even the page set-up is well planned, with a double page spread introducing four animals and their attributes, then asking the reader to guess which of the four would take the gold medal in a particular skill–speed, high jumping, etc. Turn the page to find out the winner and how a human’s performance in the same event would compare. Each animal’s size is taken into consideration, so the winner isn’t always the animal you’d think. For example, the best long-jumper is the Rocket Striped Frog–in proportion to its size, the length of its jump would compare to a human jumping the length of a football field.
Although the publisher says that this is for readers from ages 4 to 8, I would definitely hand this to older kids who are struggling and/or reluctant readers.
Publisher’s description: In this unique facts book, animals compete in sporting events such as high jump, swimming and weight lifting. Readers are encouraged to guess which animal will win before turning the page, while walrus and cockatoo “announcers” provide funny commentary and interesting statistics about the athletes’ amazing abilities. This is a winning format for kids who want to know which animals can be faster, stronger and more powerful, and how humans compare.
Hand this book to the kid who:
* is interested in animal facts
* reads joke books, riddles, and plays on words
* enjoys comics and graphic novels
* loves numbers, stats, and math challenges
Use this to teach:
* Animal Units–All students in the U.S. study animals and habitats at some point during their elementary school years. In addition to the animal facts, there’s also a quick review of habitats around the globe at the start of the book.
* Research--This would make a nice springboard for kids’ own animal research projects. Using the same format, students could come up with their own events and animal participants.
*Predicting–Children can use their own background knowledge to make predictions at first. Once they’ve caught on that the winners aren’t always the obvious choices, they’ll likely make more thoughtful predictions as they read further.
*Proportion–Challenge older kids to calculate how other animals would fare in similar competitions.
* Olympics–Display this alongside traditional sports books for a winning Olympic display.
The Nitty Gritty~
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Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: April 2013
Number of Pages: 31
Reading Level: Fountas & Pinnell: N (3rd grade)
Interest Level: Ages 4 to 8 (Although I’d give this to older struggling readers in a heartbeat…)