Two intrepid librarians

Two intrepid librarians review the best nonfiction books for children

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Strange Place to Call Home

A Strange Place to Call Home: The World's Most Dangerous Habitats & the Animals That Call Them Home
poems by Marilyn Singer
illustrations by Ed Young
Chronicle Books, 2012
ISBN: 9781452101200
Grades K-5

The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher.

Poet, Marilyn Singer, and illustrator, Ed Young, have teamed up to create a new picture book with lots of kid appeal. The book focuses on how animals have adapted to life in unusual places on earth. Each two-page spread features a poem an illustration of an animal and its strange habitat.

Singer's poems describe the habitats of various animals such as snow monkeys, tube worms, petroleum flies, and mountain goats.

Excerpt from "Top of the World" describing mountain goats:

Atop a rocky peak, the air is pure,
but the wind blows fierce and the climb is steep.
Each step must be confident and so sure,
there's little need to look before you leap.

In an author's note, Singer explains that some of poems are free verse while others have "regular rhyme schemes, but no set rules." Readers are encouraged to visit to learn more about poetic forms.

Children will be attracted to the vibrant colors and different textures of Young's paper and fiber collage illustrations. The layers of paper bring a depth to the illustrations. My favorite illustration depicts flamingos standing in a salt marsh. Painted pink paper makes up the flamingos' bodies, and brightly colored strips of cloth are used for the birds' gangly legs. The heads of the flamingos point downward as they look for a meal in the "salty land." The back of the book contains paragraphs of additional information about each animal although no list of sources or bibliography are provided.

The third grade students in my school study animal adaptations and biomes. I plan to share this book with their teachers. It could serve a starting point for students interested in learning about animals and their habitats, and it could be used as a model for young writers who want to share information in the form of poetry.

Visit Scribd to view pages from the book:

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