Thursday, July 12, 2007


Discovering Animal Habitats Around the World

Jenkins, Steve and Robin Page. 2005. I SEE A KOOKABURRA! : DISCOVERING ANIMAL HABITATS AROUND THE WORLD. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0618507647

Six habitats—desert, tide pool, jungle, savanna, forest, pond—on various continents around the world along with eight of the animals of each habitat are presented and illustrated in layered information in this inviting nonfiction book. First the habitat is pictured with the eight animals camouflaged there. On the following double-page spread the uncamouflaged animals appear in the exact position as on the previous pages along with corresponding information. As noted ants are found everywhere on earth except for the Polar Regions and a few islands, and an ant is camouflaged on each habitat page and revealed in its exact position on the following page. Finally, a glossary and map further elaborate all information.

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page are known for taking accurate, scientific animal information and presenting it in a format that will engage even young elementary age children (ANIMALS IN FLIGHT, MOVE!, WHAT DO YOU DO WITH A TAIL LIKE THAT). I SEE A KOOKABURA does that as well. The colorful double-page spread design of cut and torn paper collage creates attractive, but accurate renditions of the habitats and animals discussed. The only problem, as pointed out by Booklist (August, 2005), is that students might be confused by the inaccurate proportions represented by, for instance, the picture of the rhinoceros being smaller than the picture of the termite shown within the same habitat depiction.
The design of this particular book makes it such that it can be read on several levels—most basically as an I Spy game in finding the animals that are very well camouflaged in their habitats. The simple text giving information about each animal is displayed in and around the "revealed" animal, often taking on an arrangement mirroring the shape of the animal described, for instance the text describing an echidna, "an echidna, a prickly, egg-laying mammal." is arranged to resemble the echidna's prickly spines. For older elementary students the detailed animal glossary divided into sections correlating with each of the six habitats, along with a map outlining the global location of each habitat, has enough accurate information that it could be used as a source for reports. An additional reading list is provided for those interested in reading even more about these ususal animals and their habitats.

School Library Journal (May 1, 2005)
K-Gr. 4
Filled with vibrant colors and palpable textures, the illustrations are breathtaking and give a real sense of the vitality, diversity, and beauty of nature. A first-rate foray into ecology that will encourage readers to explore the world around them.

Publishers Weekly (April 25, 2005)
Jenkins masterfully manipulates texture and space, playing up the unique palette and architecture of each habitat, while pushing readers towards an aesthetic awareness of the remarkable shapes and patterns that compose nature’s wonders.
Other nonfiction animal books by the husband/wife Jenkins/Page team include:


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