Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Actual Size

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday

Here at Teach Mentor Texts we are always looking for more ways to support teachers! We've found that teachers seem to be constantly on the lookout for great nonfiction. We know we are! To help with this undying quest for outstanding non-fiction, we are excited to participate in Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday hosted by Kid Lit Frenzy and The Nonfiction Detectives. Every Wednesday, you'll find a non-fiction review here - although it may not always be a picture book review. Please visit Kid Lit Frenzy to see what non-fiction others have to share, too.

Title: Actual Size 
Author: Steve Jenkins  
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins 
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Childrens Book 
Publication Date: December 2006 
Genre/Format: Non-Fiction/Picture Book 
GoodReads Summary: Caldecott Honor winner Steve Jenkins delivers this mammoth-sized animal book that shows moths, ostrich heads, anteater tongues, and other animal features in actual size. Working with stunning torn- and cut-paper collages set against stark white backgrounds, Jenkins briefly describes exotic animals -- listing their length, weight, and other stats -- as he showcases what makes each of them so remarkable. Whether it's a Goliath birdeater tarantula at a gargantuan 12 inches across, a pygmy mouse lemur at 2 inches tall next to a gorilla's hand, or an eye-popping fold-out of a saltwater crocodile's head, Jenkins's life-size depictions of animals -- accompanied by extended blurbs in the back -- are a wondrous treat.  
What I Think: We fell in love with this book instantly at our house. My kids love animals and non-fiction and there were definitely audible gasps as we turned the pages and discovered new animals - or animals in different ways - in this book. Imagining what animals might look like in real life can be very abstract for kids. Actual Size really helps kids make connections between themselves and animals and their sizes. I particularly enjoy how visual this book is and that there is simple text to support the artwork. At the end, Jenkins gives longer descriptions of each of the animals in the book with pictures of the animals. When we read about the crocodile I was surprised that it is known as a man-eater. I quickly turned to the back to see if there was some clarification around that. Reading non-fiction is especially fun when it leads you to other texts, be it more non-fiction or even fiction. What a great book to use to introduce this because further reading is right there in the text itself. If a reader still wants more after the information in the back of the book, then he or she can search for other resources to get more information. This book seems like it would be a great way to introduce non-fiction and research. By incorporating actual sizes of animals (and their parts), Jenkins captures readers attention but also piques their desire to know more.
Read Together: Grades Pre-K - 5  
Read Alone: Grades - Pre-K - 5 
Read With: Here There Be Monsters: The Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid by H.P. Newquist, Butterflies and Moths and others by Nic Bishop, Where in the Wild? by David M. Schwartz, Sharks and others by Seymour Simon, Mister Seahorse and others by Eric Carle (artwork) 
Snatch of Text: "The saltwater crocodile, the world's largest reptile, is a man-eater." 
Reading Strategies to Practice: Activating Background Knowledge, Making Connections, Making Predictions, Visualizing, Using Non-Fiction Text Features, Asking Questions
Writing Strategies to Practice: Expository, Commas, Research  
Writing Prompts: Write an "actual size" expository book about yourself. Trace parts of your body on to the pages and tell something about yourself related to each part you trace.  
Topics Covered: Integration - Science, Animals
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