Tuesday, January 06, 2009

review: What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?

What Do You Do With a Tail Like This? written and illustrated by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin, 2003; 2008 (978-0-618-99713-8) $7.95 pb

Think you know what a nose is for? How about feet, pretty obvious, right? Or maybe not. This inventive picture book shows that while all animals may share the same general body parts, they can use them in vastly different ways: a platypus uses its nose to dig in the mud, an elephant uses it to bathe and a mole uses it to find its way underground.

The Caldecott Honor book grabs attention with its eye-catching design: first a spread invites curiosity by showing just the animal parts against a white background, along with a question, "What do you do with a nose like this?" (Or ears or a tail or eyes.) With a start like that, you almost have to turn to the next spread to find out what the whole animals look like, and what they do. The collage style illustrations give a wonderfully tactile impression, making it easy to imagine what the animals would actually feel like it you could touch them.

With limited, straightforward text, this book is accessible to young children as a read-aloud but would be equally interesting to older kids, who can also find more information in the notes on each animal included at the end. * (3-8)

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