Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - A Strange Place to Call Home

Author:  Marilyn Singer
Illustrator:  Ed Young
Publisher: Chronicle Books (August 22, 2012)
Source: Copy for Review
Audience:  Grades 1st to 5th
Poetry * Animal Habitats * Nonfiction

Description from GoodReads:
Under the desert's cracked and barren skin, spadefoot toads are waiting for rain. In the endless black of the deepest caves, blind fish find their way. Even in the frozen hearts of glaciers, ice worms by the billion flourish. In this fascinating look at fourteen animals who defy the odds by thriving in Earth's most dangerous places, renowned poet Marilyn Singer and celebrated artist Ed Young show that of all the miracles of life, it is life's persistence that astounds the most.

My thoughts on this book:
Take one talented poet, such as Marilyn Singer, and pair her with an awesome illustrator like Ed Young and the results are bound to be pretty spectacular.  Each two page spread in this book features a poem about 1 of 14 animals that make their home in unusual or challenging environments.  At the conclusion of this book, the end notes contain additional facts about each of the animals and their habitats, and provide a jumping off place for further discussion.

In addition to Marilyn Singer's fabulous poetry, Ed Young's torn and cut paper artwork gives the book a feeling of texture or of coming to life.  I have a feeling that if I had a chance to listen to Young speak about his process for creating the illustrations for this book that I would appreciate it at a whole new level.    

One of the things I have come to appreciate about many nonfiction picture books is the incredible end notes to extend the readers knowledge of the subject at hand.  And though, I sometimes wonder if children read the end notes, I do know that as a teacher, I have always appreciated them. 

I love that there are so many wonderful poetry books that tie in beautifully to classroom curriculum and also have an incredible way of exposing children to nonfiction in a very accessible manner.  After reading A Strange Place to Call Home, I began thinking about how to tie this into various units at different grade levels.  This is one book that will be easy to recommend to teachers and would make an nice addition to a classroom or school library.

Look for this book at your local school or public library, or consider purchasing it at your local independent bookstore.  

Check out this widget from Chronicle that allows you to get a glimpse of the inside of this book:

A Strange Place to Call Home

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