Monday, February 02, 2009

Nonfiction Monday - Bubble Homes and Fish Farts

I live with an almost 8-year old who is crazy for nonfiction, particularly about animals. While "traditional" books about animals are always fun, he and I derive much enjoyment these days from thematic books. For example, we love the the books Teeth, Wings, and Animal Babies by Sneed Collard III. We're also enamored of the books Living Color by Steve Jenkins and How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Well, throw another title on the thematic pile, because we've found a new favorite.

Bubble Homes and Fish Farts, written by Fiona Bayrock and illustrated by Carolyn Conahan, is an all-out fun-fest of animal bubbleology. Ho do animals use bubbles? After reading this title, a better question is how don't they?! Here's how the book begins:
Bubbles are soft and squishy and full of air. They shimmer. They float. And they are very handy. Animals make bubbles, ride bubbles, breathe bubbles, and even live in bubbles. Animals use bubbles in amazing ways.
Accompanied by a soft palette of gorgeous watercolor illustrations, Bayrock takes readers on a journey into worlds not often explored. Each double-page spread begins with a short sentence that describes the way in which bubbles are used. Beneath that are the common and scientific names for an animal, followed by a paragraph that describes how that particular creature uses bubbles in its daily life. The illustrations are whimsical, with each animal spouting its thoughts in, you guessed it, a bubble.

Readers will find animals that sail through the water, run on its surface, and even taste disgusting, all thanks to bubbles. Here is an excerpt from one of my son's favorite pages.
Bubbles are for

Bottlenose Dolphin - Tursiops truncatus

Young dolphins play with bubbles. They push bubbles around and chase them. It's a game to try and bit the bubbles before they burst at the surface. Some dolphins also make bubble rings. A quick flick of the head starts a small underwater whirlpool. Bubbles enter the whirlpool from the dolphin's blowhole and form a ring about as thick as pencil and up to two feet wide.
There is much to learn here. Before opening the book I tried to guess what animals and/or bubble strategies might be highlighted. Whales and bubble netting? Check. Tree frog nests? Check. And ... that's where my knowledge of bubbles stopped. Who knew there were so many ways to use bubbles? All total, Bayrock has introduced readers 16 different animals and their unique use of bubbles. As for the FaRTs in the title? Well, you'll just have to read to find out. I'm not one to spoil the fun.

The back matter in the book contains end notes about each animal, including its habitat, where in the world it lives, and even more amazing facts. There is also a glossary of terms and an index, as well as a lengthy list of acknowledgments, a huge number of them scientists and scholars who aided the author in her research.

This is a well-researched, thoroughly engaging book for studying animals and the way they adapt to their environment. I highly recommend it.

Book: Bubble Homes and Fish Farts
Author: Fiona Bayrock
Illustrator: Carolyn Conahan
Publisher: Charlesbridge
Date Published: 2009
48 pages
Source of Book:
Personal copy purchased at Amazon.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. This week our host is Anastasia Suen at Picture Book of the Day. Do stop by and see what others are sharing in the world of nonfiction today.


  1. You can never have enough books about farts, that's what I always say.

  2. Well, the book isn't really about farts, but just having the word in the title is bound to attract readers!

  3. bubbles, bubbles, bubbles....
    Sounds good, I will have to check it out. I have an almost 9 year old and she loves to read.

  4. Thanks for sharing your non-fiction find! As a future Elementary school teacher I am always looking for interesting and fun non-fiction books for my children more interested in discovering more about this world than a make believe one.

  5. Thanks, Tricia. I'm glad you liked it. It was great fun to write.

  6. sounds great! I will add it to our list...

  7. This sounds like a great book. My daughter and I have enjoyed many of the books you written about over the last several months. So thanks!

  8. Wow, this sounds like a great book. You have piqued my curiosity - I really really want to know more about bubbles and animals!

    (And of course, kids would love that too.)