The One and Only Ivan: Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan

Author: Katherine Applegate

Publisher: New York: Harper

Publication Year: 2012

Brief Summary: Ivan is a star at a circus-themed mall, where he has spend the last 27 years alone in a cage.  When his good friend Stella, an aging, dying elephant, makes him promise to take care of the mall’s newest addition, a baby elephant named Ruby, Ivan devises and carries out a plan that will save them all.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

John Newbery Medal, 2013 Winner United States
Amazon Editors’ Picks: Best Books of the Year, 2012
Choices, 2013 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Kirkus Best Children’s Books, 2012
Kirkus Book Review Stars, October 15, 2011
School Library Journal Best Books, 2012
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, January 2012 ; Cahners

Personal Comments: Based on the true story, this book will appeal to animal lovers of all ages.  The book’s easy-to-read text and short chapters will appeal to reluctant/struggling readers and its themes will touch many hearts.  Students might want to research the life of the real Ivan further by going to the Zoo Atlanta web page as well as other sites devoted to him.  The book may also be a good vehicle to discuss zoos, circuses, and the philosophies associated with them.

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library; brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core/etc.

  • Discuss animals in captivity and the human treatment of animals in general, animal rights, etc.  How were things done in the past?  How are things today?  Discuss similarities/differences…in what ways have we gotten better in our treatment of animals?  In what ways do we still need to improve?  Discuss zoos, circuses, animals kept in home, etc.
  • Research more about some of the animals featured in the book — elephant, gorillas, dogs.  Do elephants really have good memories?  What are some of the characteristics of gorillas?  What are other unlikely animal friendships that you might have read about in the news or in other informational books?
  • Link to book’s official website.

Accessed at: Personal Library

Frog and Toad Are Friends: Arnold Lobel

Frog and Toad Are Friends

Author/Illustrator: Arnold Lobel
Publisher: Harper and Row
Publication Year: 1970
Brief Summary: Best friends Frog and Toad go through many adventures together, including going swimming, finding lost buttons, and writing letters.

Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Discuss Frog and Toad’s friendship — what makes it work?  What makes a good friend?  What are some examples of Frog and Toad being good friends to each other?
  • Have you ever tried making up a story, like Toad?  Is it easy or hard for you?  Did you like Toad’s story?
  • Practice letter writing and assign students pen pals from another class or another grade or another school.  What are the key elements in a letter?  Discuss different types of letters — informal ones to friends/family, formal ones to teacher/boss, short memos, etc. — and the appropriate use of each.  How is letter writing different from texting, essay-writing, creative stories, etc.?
  • How did Frog trick Toad into waking up early for Spring?
  • Discuss the different buttons Frog and Toad saw in the Lost Button chapter.  Have kids each bring in a button from home and glue it onto a “coat” (make it out of felt).  Discuss different shapes, colors, and sizes with young children.

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  

Accessed at: Capilano Library

Can We Save the Tiger?: Martin Jenkins

Can We Save the Tiger?

Author/Illustrator: Martin Jenkins/Vicky White
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Year: 2011
Brief Summary: This beautifully-illustrated and touchingly-written book implores readers to think about how human actions might affect the animals whom we share the planet with.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Why do some animals become endangered/extinct? e.g. human actions, through disease transferred by other animals, etc.
  • What are some ways our actions affect the animals and cause them to be endangered/extinct?  e.g. by hunting them, by introducing predator into their habitat, etc.
  • What are some things we can do to help save the animals?
  • Take a field trip to a nature center and learn about animal conservation efforts.
  • Select one of the animals/plants discussed in the book and conduct further research.  Provide concrete ways we can help.

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  Additional web resources provided in the back; index

Accessed at: Capilano Library

One Cool Friend: Toni Buzzeo

One Cool Friend

Author: Tony Buzzeo
Illustrator: David Small
Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
Publication Year: 2012
Brief Summary: Elliot, a very proper boy, visits the aquarium, falls in love with the penguins, and brings one home.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Research different kinds of penguins and read other penguin books (fiction and non-fiction).  Study Ferdinand Magellan and his explorations.
  • Study penguin habitats.  Would Elliot’s home be the proper place for a penguin?  What does Elliot do to stimulate this habitat?
  • Were you surprised that Elliot’s dad had a real turtle?  What are some clues on the preceding pages?

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.   

Accessed at: Capilano Library

Actual Size: Steve Jenkins

Actual Size

Author/Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Year: 2004
Brief Summary: Children learn about animal sizes and units of measurement through life-size drawings of animals and animal parts.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Math: discuss units of measurement — length and weight.  Provide rulers and scales for students and have them measure various items.  Compare the measurements with some of the measurements in the book to get an idea of how big/small the animals or animal body parts are.
  • Science: discuss the animals in the book.  How do body parts or appearance/size of the animals help them?  For example, the atlas moth’s size protects it from prey, the giant anteater’s tongue is two-foot tongue helps it eat termites, etc.
  • Have students select one of the animals in the book and conduct further research.   Provide other non-fiction books for additional information.
  • Art: Jenkins uses a lot of cut/torn-paper art in this book.  Provide pieces of construction paper of various colors and let students create different animals.

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  Additional facts for further research about the animals in the back of the book.

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary School

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?: Steve Jenkins & Robin Page

9780618966349

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly?

Author/Illustrator: Steve Jenkins & Robin Page
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Year: 2008
Brief Summary: Kids learn about different challenges animals face (finding food, building shelter, hatching eggs) and how they solve these problems.  More detailed facts about the animals are presented in the back of the book.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  • Science: what are some challenges animals face?  (Having to catch food, hatch an egg, build a shelter, etc.)  What are some creative ways animals solve these problems?
  • Can you think of some challenges that we face as humans that are similar to those faced by animals?  Do we have to worry about finding food, “hatching an egg”/taking care of a baby, building shelter, etc?  How do we solve these challenges?
  • Can you think of a challenge that you faced lately…how did you solve it?  Write about it and share with your classmates.

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  Additional facts about the animals in the back of the book.

Accessed at: Capilano Library

Animal Poems: Valerie Worth

Animal Poems

Author: Valerie Worth
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Publication Year: 2007
Brief Summary: Each of the 23 poems in this collection features an animal, accompanied by beautiful cut-paper illustrations by Steve Jenkins.
Awards, Honors and Prizes:

Ideas for using this book in classroom or library and/or brief notes on curriculum connections/content learning standards/Common Core, etc.:

  •  Science: have students pick an animal out of this book and research it.  Discuss different genres — poetry vs. informational — and their different purposes (pleasure reading/listening vs. providing information)
  • Art: give students construction paper and have them create different animals using the technique Steve Jenkins used for this book

Special features included (if applicable) — index; timeline; author’s notes; further reading; etc.  

Accessed at: Thrasher Elementary Library