Thursday, January 21, 2010

Book Review - Who Lives Here? Savanna Animals

The Who Lives Here? series, written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Pat Stephens, examines animals in their natural environments and explains how those animals are uniquely adapted to their habitats. The books are organized by habitat and include titles on Desert Animals, Forest Animals, Polar Animals, Rain Forest Animals, Savanna Animals and Wetland Animals.

Who Lives Here? Savanna Animals opens with a Table of Contents that begins with a page that defines that habitat (What is a Savanna?) and ends with a page containing animals words (pictorial index) and information for parents and teachers. In between are 9 double-page spreads, each introducing a different animal.

The opening page that asks the question "What is a __?" provides a good basic introduction to the habitat. Here is how the What is a Savanna? page begins.
A savanna is a huge area of grassy land, dotted by trees and bushes. Savannas are found in hot parts of the world. Most have a long dry season and a shorter rainy season.

The savanna is home to many exciting animals. Their bodies and habits are suited for living on the warm grassy plain.
The facing page briefly describes the savanna after it rains, a bit about what happens when the rainy season ends, the importance of grass to the animals that live here.

Once the background information has been covered, this book all about the animals. Readers will find information on these savanna inhabitants.
  • Elephant
  • Wildebeest
  • Giraffe
  • Meerkat
  • Zebra
  • Black Mamba
  • Lion
  • Ostrich
  • Rhinoceros
Each set of animal pages includes a description of the animal and a sidebar with facts about the animal and its adaptations, as well as an illustration that covers a full one and a third of the double-page spread. Here is an example.
(Main Spread, p.10)
The giraffe is the tallest animal in the world. Some big males are as tall as two-story buildings.

Giraffes stay near acacia trees that grow on the savanna. A calf drinks its mother's milk, but soon it will eat acacia leaves, too. Delicious!

(Sidebar, p.11)
A giraffe nibbles high in the treetops. It picks leaves with a tongue that is as long as your arm.

Male giraffes wrestle with their powerful necks to see who is the strongest.

Long, strong legs help the giraffe run fast. Hooves, as big as dinner plates, give a fierce kick.
Here's a sample spread of these animal pages.
Each of these animal entries is packed with information. The text is easy to read and the illustrations in the sidebar support the text by providing close-up views of the adaptations described. The animal words section on the last page of each book provides a search-and-find opportunity for readers. Six close-up views of a body part are accompanied by a name, page number, and the question "Can you find pictures of these body parts in the book?" The idea here is for students to revisit the pages and think about how the body part helps the animal adapt to its environment.

This is a strong entry in the series that will be a useful resources for students studying how a variety of animals adapt to their environments. The accessibility of the language and detailed illustrations make them helpful texts for young readers. The fact that this book contains elephants, giraffes, and other "exotic" animals makes this one particularly appealing. Recommended.

Book: Who Lives Here? Savanna Animals
Author: Deborah Hodge
Illustrator: Pat Stephens
Publisher: Kids Can Press
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 24 pages
Grades: K-3
Source of Book: Review copy received from Raab Associates.

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