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Monday, October 29, 2012

It's Our Nature, written by Rebeca Orozco and illustrated by Menena Cottin. Tundra Books, Random House. 2012. $14.99 ages 5 and up

"To protect themselves against the wind and the cold, the males huddle together to form a circle. Taking turns, those who have been on the outside of the circle move into the center of the group where it is warmer, while the penguins on the inside move to the outskirts."

We were using this book in a workshop last week while talking about how we can help children learn to read nonfiction. There are many strategies that writers of informational text use. Just one of the ways noted in our share, following looking at some amazing new books, was that they use good introductions and endings to help with our understanding.

This new book from Tundra was pointed out as one in which Rebeca Orozco does just that. In her opening she offers a reason for wanting to write and read this book:

"We have a lot in common with animals. We experience love, pain, happiness, and sorrow. Animals do too. We share these feelings and others as well. But animals could show us a thing or two about responsibility, community, generosity and tolerance."

There is much to learn from the animal kingdom, and the author sets about showing us just what a variety of animals do that would benefit us. She starts out telling us about howler monkeys and altruism: they warn their troop of imminent danger despite the risk to themselves, opting to save the females and babies first. The flamingo has an innate sense of community and large groups of adults arrange 'daycare' for babies in order to let their parents get some rest. Pretty amazing stuff!

Young readers will love learning about animals and their feelings. The text is accessible, and the artist's images will inspire feelings of 'awww''. Finally, she reminds us in her ending of the lessons that they can teach us:

"In the grasslands, the forests, the deserts, and the seas, animals learn to get along. They tolerate each other's differences and embrace diversity."
Can't we do the same?

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