CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 9. . . .October 30, 2009.
Desert Animals. (Who Lives Here?).
Deborah Hodge. Illustrated by Pat Stephens.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2008.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $5.95 (pbk.), $14.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55453-048-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55453-047-2 (hc.).
Desert animals-Juvenile literature.
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Margaret Snow.
Desert Animals, one of five books in Deborah Hodges "Who Lives Here?" series, is an easy to read, nonfiction book that gives basic, interesting facts on a two-page spread for the nine animals selected from this biome. The chosen species range from the familiar scorpion, bactrian camel, sidewinder rattlesnake, roadrunner and gila monster to the lesser known sand cat, fennel fox, elf owl and addax. Each animal has four sentences of main text with thee sidebar sections of further tidbits of interesting facts.
The desert hairy scorpion lives in cactus deserts. It hides during the hot day and hunts during the cool night.
A scorpion has tiny body hairs that sense movement and help it find prey. It grabs insects and spiders with its powerful claws called pincers.
A scorpion poisons lizards and snakes by plunging its needle-sharp stinger into them. Ouch!
Tiny baby scorpions ride on their mother's back. They are safer here from birds, bats and other enemies.
As a scorpion grows, it sheds the tough body covering that is now too tight! A bigger covering has grown underneath.
Originally from Moose Jaw, SK, author Deborah Hodge has created not only the books in this series, but also more than 20 nonfiction and picture books, frequently winning awards for her writing. She currently resides with her husband near the mountains and the ocean in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Naturalist artist Pat Stephens, who is the illustrator of all the books in the "Who Lives Here" series, has also illustrated more than 20 other books by other authors for Kids Can Press. Her love and compassion for animals is evident as she effectively created four soft toned, watercolour illustrations for each animal (one main drawing of the creature in a typical scene, and three smaller circular spotlighted images, demonstrating the specified characteristics in the text for each species). Stephens describes herself as an animal rescuer and currently resides in Durham, ON.
When I used this book as a read aloud with primary students, I found that one of their favorite parts was the animal quiz section where they could review key features of six of the animals. Also included on this page was a notation to teachers/parents describing the attributes of deserts. The highlight for the primary students was a trip to the author's website found at www.deborahhodge.com which contained not only information about hers and all of her books but also activities including the "Kids Art Gallery", "Animal Sounds", "Animal Word Fun", "Animal Puzzle" and "Amazing Animal Facts". The knowledge the children gained from reading this book definitely sparked their interest to seek out books with more information to satisfy their interest and curiosity on many of these creatures.
Margaret Snow is a teacher-librarian and literacy teacher in a small, rural school in Southwestern Ontario.
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