"The best children's stories are wisdom dipped in art and words." -Peter Reynolds

Friday, April 11, 2014

National Geographic Little Kids: African Animal Alphabet

National Geographic Little Kids: African Animal Alphabet by Beverly and Dereck Joubert was published in 2011 by National Geographic. It is an informational alphabet book about animals for young and elementary readers.

The Introduction page has a topographical map of Africa with a clear map key and labeled oceans. On the opposite page there is a paragraph introducing the book and encouraging the reader to join the authors on an alphabet safari. There is also a small photograph of the authors, Beverly and Dereck Joubert, on their own safari they experienced in Africa. The caption explains that they spent more than 25 years living with the wild animals of Africa. Wow, talk about credibility and authenticity on the topic!

Each page has a stunning, real photograph of the animal being discussed. It follows the typical pattern of: "A is for _____" for each letter, followed by a couple sentences of descriptions of that animal. There is also a small, colored "Did you know?" box on each page with a fascinating fact about that animal. For example, my favorite page is the "E is for Elephant" page since it is my favorite animal. It reads,

"E is for Elephant. A mother elephant and her elegant herd watch an energetic calf as he eagerly tries to stay just out of reach of his mom's elongated trunk."

Then the "Did you know?" fact reads: "Elephants weigh up to 14, 000 pounds and have more than 40,000 muscles in their trunks."

The photographs in this book are all vibrantly colored and make the reader feel like they are really on a safari! The page numbers are clearly labeled for easy reference. In the back of the book after the Z is for Zebra page is the "Animal Facts" pages. There is a small box for each letter and animal that was featured in the book, with more detailed facts about the animal. The facts include home, size, food, sounds, and babies. On the next page there is a very colorful and simple glossary featuring some of the more difficult vocabulary in the book. Lastly, there is a "More Information" page with additional books and websites that children and their parents can access to learn more about these African animals and more.

I absolutely adore this book! It is perfectly designed for young and elementary aged children. The pattern of the book is predictable and steady. The photographs and contents are brightly colored and very visually appealing. Overall, the nonfiction text features are simple and easily to use. The information isn't too complicated for a child to decipher and comprehend.  I could see a young child curling up with this book at bed time with their parents as well as an elementary aged student reading it during independent reading time.

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