Thursday, March 27, 2008

Springing to Life

With the official start of spring just behind us here in the northern hemisphere, my thoughts have turned to polliwogs, baby birds, and butterflies. Last year in honor of spring I put together a thematic book list on seeds and growing things. This time around I thought it would be fun to look at books for examining the early stages of life in some animals.

Let's start with some books on eggs and oviparous animals.
  • Guess What is Growing Inside This Egg by Mia Posada - This interactive books includes a poem and visual clue before asking readers to guess what is inside the egg. Once they turn the page the answer is revealed along with a bit of information about the animal. This is another great book for looking at different animals that lay eggs.
  • What Hatches? by Don Curry - This book describes different types of eggs and the animals that hatch from them, including birds, butterflies, frogs, alligators, and fish.
  • An Egg is Quiet by Diana Hutts Aston - With gorgeous ink-and-watercolor illustrations, this beautiful book explores eggs in their many sizes, shapes, colors, and textures.
  • Egg to Chick by Millicent E. Selsam - This Reading Rainbow selection explains in clear and simple language how an egg cell develops from fertilization through hatching.
  • A Nest Full of Eggs by Priscilla Belz Jenkins - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series follows a robin family a robin family from early spring, through nest building, hatching, and fledging.
  • Where Do Chicks Come From? by Amy Sklansky - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series describes the development of a baby chick from fertilization until it hatches. This is a simple, yet scientific introduction to the subject.
  • Bird Eggs by Helen Frost - This book identifies and describes different bird eggs by their size, color, and pattern.
  • The Emperor's Egg by Martin Jenkins - This book highlights the role of male penguins in incubating the eggs of the young in the harsh Antarctic winter.
  • The Emperor Lays an Egg by Brenda Guiberson - This book begins with the laying of an egg and goes on to describe the care given to the baby penguin from the time it hatches until it is on its own.
  • Penguin Chick by Betty Tatham - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series follows the growth of one penguin chick from egg to adulthood.
  • A Platypus, Probably by Sneed Collard - In discussing egg-laying animals, one can't leave out the platypus. This book clearly describes the physical characteristics and behaviors of this unusual animal.
  • You Can't Lay an Egg if You're an Elephant by Fred Ehrlich - This book looks at the difference between animals that lay eggs and animals that give birth to live young. The first two chapters are devoted to birds.
If it's fiction you're looking for, stop by Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup and check out her post featuring some of her favorite "eggy picture books."

Here are a few books that look at the life cycles of birds, frogs and butterflies.
  • From Tadpole to Frog by Wendy Pfeffer - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series introduces readers to the life cycle of frogs.
  • From Caterpillar to Butterfly by Deborah Heiligman - This book in the Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science series introduces readers to the life cycle of the butterfly.
  • Where Butterflies Grow by Joanne Ryder - This book follows the growth of a butterfly from its beginning as an egg. Also included are directions for attracting butterflies to your garden.
  • Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert - This beautifully illustrated book introduces readers to the wonder of butterfly metamorphosis.
  • Robins and Their Chicks by Linda Tagliaferro - In text and photos this book describe the lives of baby robins from birth to early maturity.
  • Two Blue Jays by Anne Rockwell - In this book a child describes the mating ritual, nest building, and feeding and brooding habits of a pair of blue jays. All of this is observed by a group of children observing the animals outside their classroom window.
  • Hummingbird Nest: A Journal of Poems by Kristine O'Connell George - What happens when a poet awakens one morning to find a hummingbird nest in a tree on her patio? She writes about everything she sees. This wonderful volume of poems follows the hummingbirds from egg stage through leaving the nest. Included is an author's note and information about hummingbirds.
If you want more books about frogs and and toads, try this thematic list. You can also find a great list of frog poetry at Wild Rose Reader in a post entitled Leaping Lizards! It's the year of the Frog.

Finally, here are a few poems that support this topic.
  • Eggs by Steven Schnur in Spring: An Alphabet Acrostic.
    Egrets, ducks, and
    Geese nest in the marsh
    Grass, waiting for their
    Shells to hatch.

    You will also find poems for the words frog, nest, and young here.

  • The Mother (p. 32) by Marilyn Singer in The Company of Crows: A Book of Poems.
    Three messy nests my last year's brood
    are building:
    one lopsided
    one slopsided
    the third half washed away
    by last night's rain.
    I help them by not helping.

    Without practice
    how would they ever learn
    the roundness
    the tightness
    the rightness
    of a nest?

    There are several other poems in this book that examine mother and father birds and their young.

  • Spring Splashdown by Joyce Sidman in Song of the Water Boatman & Other Pond Poems. The double page-spread includes a poem describing newly hatched wood ducks and some information about them.

    Peck, peck,
    crackle, crackle.
    Fluff, fluff,
    wiggle, wiggle.
    Snooze, snooze . . .
    Mommy calling!
Over at Wild Rose Reader, Elaine put together a terrific list of of books to welcome spring with poetry. You're sure to find some other useful titles there.

I'm sure there are many more terrific books that touch on these subjects. These are the ones that speak to me of spring and new life. If you have a book to recommend, please let me know and I'll add it to the list.


  1. Thanks for the link, Tricia! I'm going to link back to you, too :)!

  2. Thanks for posting my poem! Believe it or not, I have a new non-fiction book about eggs from Holiday House called, appropriately, EGGS.


    Marilyn Singer

  3. Tricia,

    1. I recently picked up the new nonfiction book by Marilyn Singer entitled EGGS. It was illustrated by Emma Stevenson and published by Holiday House (2008). It contains lots of interesting information about all different kinds of eggs, the animals who lay them, where the eggs are laid and carried. It includes a glossary and source notes. Great book!

    2. I really like April Pulley Sayre's DIG WAIT LISTEN: A DESERT TOAD'S TALE. It's about toads who live underground most of the year and wait for the sound of rain to dig to the surface and mate. Their eggs are laid in puddles. The eggs hatch in a couple of days and develop into frogs. When the desert's dry again, they burrow down into the ground. (Greenwillow, 2001)

    3. BECOMING BUTTERFLIES, written by Anne Rockwell and illustrated by Megan Halsey. This story takes place in an elementary classroom as students observe and record the development of monarch larvae into butterflies. (Walker & Company, 2002)

    3. LIFE AS A BUTTERFLY, by Victoria Parker (Raintree Sprouts, 2004) and BUTTERFLY, by Louise Spilsbury (Heinemann Read and Learn, 2005) are both books illustrated with excellent close-up photographs and are intended for young children. Both are divided into two-page sections. Most sections have just three or four sentences.

    4. WATCH ME GROW: BUTTERFLY and WATCH ME GROW: FROG, both written by Lisa Magloff and published by DK Publishing in 2003. These books also have two-page sections, but with more text than the two books noted above--and great photographs.

  4. Tricia,


    1. JUST US TWO: POEMS ABOUT ANIMAL DADS, which was written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Susan Swan (Millbrook Press, 2000). This book is out of print--but I was able to get a copy that's like new. I wrote a review of the book for Blue Rose Girls some time ago. The poems in the book speak about the relationships between some animal babies and their fathers. Poems include "If I Were an Egg" about an emperor penguin and "Egg Business" about giant water bugs.

    2. THE MONARCH'S PROGRESS: POEMS WITH WINGS, written and illustrated by Avis Harley (Wordsong, 2008). The collection has a variety of types of poems, including haiku, acrostics, and limericks--about monarch eggs, caterpillars, pupae, adults, migration, feeding, etc.

    Both of these poetry books include information about the animals in the back matter. They're great for use in the science curriculum.

  5. Thanks, Elaine, for all the recommendations! I've ordered a copy of EGGS and can't wait to see it.

    I do have a copy of Sidman's poetry book, so I'll need to look through it.

    Thanks again for contributing to the list!