Monday, May 25, 2009

Nonfiction Monday - Why?

One of my favorite things about working with young children in the classroom is responding to their comments and questions. Kids are curious and aren't afraid to ask the most wonderful, interesting, and oddball questions.
Why?, written and illustrated by Lila Prap, answers some of the questions kids often ask about animals, such as:
  • Why do hyenas laugh?
  • Why do camels have humps?
  • Why do hippos yawn?
Here's how the book begins.
Dear Curious Friends,
Some of the answers in to the questions in this book are silly, some are sensible, and some are scientific. (Those are the ones marked by an asterisk *.) But feel free to make up some questions, some answers, and some animals of your own. They can be silly or serious ... whichever you like.
First published in Slovenia in 2003, this gem from Kane/Miller is witty and informative. The illustrations and text are whimsical and kid-friendly. On the spread that asks "Why are zebras striped?" you'll find these silly answers.
  • Zebras are horses wearing pajamas.
  • They escaped from prison.
  • Because their mamas are striped, too.
  • Because they can't decide whether to be black or white.
You'll also find this scientific one.
Every zebra has a different and unique stripe pattern, just as every person has a different and unique fingerprint. Their stripes can be used to tell them apart, but many scientists believe their stripes also help to confuse predators.
This is a book that provides a relatively unorthodox introduction to popular animals (elephants, giraffes, monkeys, etc.) while managing to be silly and serious at the same time. It is not only a terrific read aloud, but a great book for reading and discussing one-on-one.

This would make a great mentor text paired with Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories. After reading, kids could be guided to write their own animal questions and answers--from silly to creative and scientific. Recommended.

Author and Illustrator: Lila Prap
Publisher: Kane/Miller Book Publishers
Publication Date: September, 2005
Pages: 32 pages
Grades: preK-3
ISBN: 978-1929132805
Source of Book: Personal copy purchased at a local independent bookstore.

This post was written for Nonfiction Monday. I am hosting this week, so please stop by and see what others are sharing in the world of nonfiction today.


  1. This looks wonderful. I think my little one will enjoy it. Thanks. :-)

  2. After I shared this book with my second graders, they decided to use WHY? as a mentor text and write their own version!
    Each child chose an animal to research. They asked a question, created 3 silly answers (these were precious), and wrote their "starred" scientific explanation.
    We went through the Student Treasures company to actually publish their class book. Once the books arrived, we had an Author Signing Night at Barnes & Noble.
    To see pictures of our book and our special Author's Signing event, follow this link:

    It was something they will never forget!

    Thanks, Lila Prap!