Michelle Lord, Author
Michael Garland, Illustrator
Holiday House, Nonfiction, July 1, 2014
Suitable for Ages: 5-9
Themes: Vertebrates, Reptiles, Fish, Mammals, Birds, Amphibians, Animals, Rhyming text
Opening: “Vertebrates have spines. Elephants to pygmy wrasses, vertebrates are grouped by classes. Vertebrates have spines like you, mammals, fish and reptiles too!”
Synopsis: Animal School begins with very detailed illustrations of the skeletons of five classifications of vertebrates with spines like mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles, and birds. Some walk on legs, while others swim, crawl, scamper or fly. Some breathe air while others live in water where oxygen flows through gills. With rhythmic text the author explores a subject many children will find fascinating.
I like this book because: it introduces children to the intriguing world of vertebrates. Michelle Lord’s knowledge of vertebrates is captured in her catchy and entertaining rhyming in each classification. She provides the appealing facts about the special characteristics of each vertebrate classification: reptiles, fish, mammals (including humans), bird, amphibians, and animals. Verses describe whether the vertebrae is cold-blooded or warm-blooded, scaly or furry, hatched or birthed from an animal. Her language is understandable and kid-friendly. Michael Garland’s “digital woodcut” illustrations of the animals and reptiles add a dramatic touch that is eye-catching and suits the preferred natural habitat. The texture really adds realism to the story. His double-page spreads are simply stunning, complimenting the story. The cover is regal.
Favorite verses and illustrations:
Reptiles: “But alligators / raise their young. / Hatchlings ride on / Mother’s tongue. / Every noise / a reptile hears / through covered holes, / not floppy ears.”
Fish: “Underwater / fishes roam. / Rivers, lakes, or seas are home. / Oxygen flows/ through their gills./ Water passes/ through these frills. /Fish are cloaked / in flaky scales, / lacking hair or / furry tails.”
Resources: At the end of the book is a chart with all five classifications, their characteristics, some of the species, examples, an afterword about “invertebrates (spineless),” and suggested websites to check out. Use this book before you take your children on a visit to a zoo, aquarium or on a walk through the woods. Visit Michelle Lord and Michael Garland’s websites to learn more about their books.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books (PPB) with resources, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.