Author/Illustrator: Jenkins, Steve
Publisher and Date: Houghton Mifflin Books, 2004
Genre: Informational, Picture Book
Age Range: K-3rd
Summary: This informational book shows the actual size of a variety of animals. In the back of the book, Jenkins includes a full body picture (not at actual size) of each animal with a more elaborate description of each one. Animals range from the dwarf goby (world's smallest fish) to siberian tigers (largest of all cats).
Response: I am a very visual person and being able to compare the actual size of the animals in this book to my hands, eyes, teeth, etc. is so great! I remember looking through so many books and magazines about different animals and seeing pictures of them but I never knew what they looked like in real life until I went to the zoo and saw them in person. With this book, children can see how big an elephant's foot is, how big a giant squid's eye is, etc. without ever leaving their home or school! Don't get me wrong, zoo trips are amazing... but there isn't always an opportunity for those.
Jenkins is one of my favorite children's book illustrators. He makes collages of each illustration using cut and torn pieces of paper. On his website he goes through the process of making his books. There is also a video about how his book Move! was made. The paper he uses adds a lot of texture to the picture, especially if he uses torn edges. When reading through this book I find myself fascinated at the detail of the animals Jenkins illustrated. He doesn't leave out one razor sharp four inch tooth or any long, thin whiskers.
Teaching Ideas: This book would be great for use in a science lesson in the study of different types of animals. It could even be followed by a trip to the local zoo! After reading the book, students could find facts on their favorite animal that wasn't mentioned in the book and make their own 'actual size' animal with construction paper. These could be collected and made into a bulletin board entitled 'We're Actual Size!'.
My Impression of Nonfiction Texts:I truly enjoy reading nonfiction books. To me they are among the most interesting books I have read. Fiction books produce great stories as well, but it easier to relate to books about something that has really happened or that is about a place you have visited. As for children, some informational texts might not appeal to them but for the most part I think they would enjoy them because of the real photographs or if it shows the actual size of something, such as animals.