Friday, January 15, 2021

Starting the Year with Animals

Welcome back to a new year of STEAM books and activities, and Wednesday nature breaks. This will be a busy year for me because I am working on another book full of science and fun for kids. And, next month my debut picture book is released. It features flies (because who doesn’t love bugs?) – and the predators that snack on them.

I hope you had the chance to join Susan Stockdale at the Natural History museum last Saturday. She talked about animals with stripes. Today I’m sharing books that introduce more animals and their adaptations.

themes: animals, homes, communication

Animal Homes 
by Mary Holland (Author)
32 pages; ages 5-9
Arbordale Publishing, 2020

Animals use their homes for shelter and for raising their young.

Some animal homes are easy to see, and others are hidden for protection. Some animals build their own homes, while others move into abandoned burrows or take advantage of natural caves and crevices. Some homes are one-room affairs; others branch into separate rooms. Some animals use natural materials for building, and some make their own materials – ever seen a bubble-house?

What I like about this book: Each spread features an animal and information about its home. Featured animals include squirrels, woodpeckers, beavers, wasps, caterpillars, spittlebugs, bears, woodchucks, and foxes. I may have missed a couple! Mary Holland’s photos are crisp and engaging. And the back matter includes extra facts and a matching game.

What's This Tail Saying? 
by Carolyn Combs; illus. by Cathy Morrison 
32 pages; ages 4-8
Dawn Publications, 2020

Animal tails are talking. Can you guess what they are saying?

From skinks to skunks, rattlesnakes to raccoons, Carolyn Coombs shows how a dozen animals use their tails to communicate. Sometimes it’s a warning, sometimes it’s an invitation to play.

What I like about this book: On one page there’s a clue: an illustration of a tail with descriptive words. Switch Twitch ~ what’s that tail saying? Take a guess, then turn the page to find out if you’re right. Back matter includes more information for each animal featured and a list of STEAM activities.

Beyond the Books:

Build an animal home! If you’re outside, use natural features and/or natural materials to construct a home for an animal – or for yourself. How does your home hold up to the elements?
If you’re stuck inside on a cold or rainy day, build a home out of things you find around the house. What sort of purpose does your home serve? (my blanket fort is a great place to read!)

Design an animal tail for yourself. What would it look like? How would it work? Would it use noise or color or movement to send messages? And what sort of messages could you send using your tail? 

Today we're joining Perfect Picture Book Friday, an event where bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's website. Review copies provided by the publishers.


  1. Sue, great reviews of two great books and really fun activities. I have the tail book on hold - I'm excited to read it. Thanks for the introduction.

  2. Thanks for always finding such fun books. I will be checking these out. I like the activities. Great post.