Friday, August 26, 2011

STEM Friday - What's for Dinner?

Over at my new blog, Bookish Ways in Math and Science, you'll find an annotated bibliography on food chains. I wrote it as a sample for my students, who will soon be creating their own bibliographies for a range of topics in math and science. (If you want to the see the math sample, check out the post on ordinal numbers.) I hope you'll visit often and check out their work.

In reviewing books for inclusion in the food chain post, I decided not to focus on nonfiction works about the food chain, but rather picture books and poetry. I was particularly taken with What's for Dinner?: Quirky, Squirmy Poems from the Animal World, written by Katherine B. Hauth and illustrated by David Clark.

While the title may not indicate that this is a book of poems about organisms and where they fit in a food chain, one need only look at the cover to see fly--frog--big, nasty predator. Before even reading the poems you could engage students in a discussion of the partial food chain in this illustration. What kind of ecosystem is this? What are the likely producers? What do flies eat? What kind of animal might eat a frog? 

Inside readers will find 29 poems about a range of food chain topics. The introductory poem, "What's for Dinner," explains why animals must find food. What follows are humorous, graphic, scientific, inventive and just downright fun poems. Accompanied by equally graphic and humorous illustrations, the perfect pairing of word and art gives us a book that readers will love.

In the poem entitled "Waste Management," a rather haughty-looking vulture pulls at a strand of the innards of a carcass while standing on the exposed ribs. Here is the poem that accompanies it.
No dainty vegetarian,
the vulture rips up carrion.
It likes to feast before the worms,
which saves us all from stink and germs.
While most of the poems are about animals, the last entry, "Eating Words," uses poetry and word roots to define insectivore, carnivore, herbivore, and omnivore.

The back matter includes a section entitled More Words About the Poems, which explains a bit more of the science and further explains vocabulary terms such as symbiosis, parasitism, mutualism, commensalism, and more. More Words About  the Animals provides background information for each of the poems. Here's the text that expands on the poem "Waste Management."
Turkey vultures don't have strong beaks and feet. They can't tear into tough hide and muscle until it's been "tenderized" by decay. A turkey vulture's featherless head and neck may look strange, but skin is easier to clean than feathers after the bird plunges its head into a rotting carcass.
The final page of the book provides some additional titles for learning more about the animals in the book.

Overall, this is a fine book for readers interested in predators and prey. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

For more information about the book and its author, download the file Author Spotlight with Katherine B. Hauth.

This post was written for STEM Friday. Today's round up is being hosted by Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day. Do stop by and see the great books being shared for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).


  1. Thanks for participating in STEM Friday today!
    :-) Anastasia

  2. I was sort of surprised to find this book shelved in biology instead of poetry section at my local library, but it is great to have books that fit in either area.

    It is pretty "quirky." :-)