Animal adventures across countries, continents….and contents pages!

Hope you’re ready for another #STEMtastic bundle of great books. This lot are all linked to animal adventures. They don’t shy away from great vocabulary and give full animal names to discover and learn about.

Awe and wonder! Nature provides it in abundance. Poring over pages with interested young animal enthusiasts is utter joy. When their eyes flit from corner to corner and page to page, it’s just fantastic. Atlas of Animal Adventures by Rachel Williams, Emily Hawkins and Lucy Letherland is brilliantly big,  giving pages full of intricate details to investigate.

The wonderful world map acts as a visual contents page before the actual one. My own daughter (4) likes to choose her adventure from this page, which then gives me a chance to model using the contents page and talk about the continents. It invites you to embark on an adventure, as the introduction section says.

Each animal, and the book is jam-packed with them, has a double page spread. The illustration is detailed and interesting, inviting the reader to linger over the information. I like a bit of lingering: nothing better to encourage a bit of book love! Short captions dotted around the image give extra details. The  vocabulary is interesting and challenging. There are lots of opportunities to learn new words and look at their etymology. Each page also has a map section and labelled diagram (we’ll mention these again later).

At the back, you’ll find the traditional index, but also a wonderful ‘Can you find?’ section. A perfect idea to encourage readers to scour each page to find the ‘right’ information, like true non fiction readers. This is a great book to return to over and and over.

Let’s fly to another book that we can link with it.

From the biggest book to the smallest of our selection. But good things come in small parcels! This book, by Patricia Hegarty and Jessica Courtney-Tickle, is again about astonishing adventures and incredible migrations. Its sections group the journeys differently: migrations, water world, hot and cold, and finally, animal antics.  This is an opportunity to discuss how children might group the animals themselves. Or you could look at the animals in a section and look for commonalities. What title would give this section? Does their idea match the book?


I love the little titles for each animal’s page – ‘Tiny Traveller’, ‘Helping Hands’ … who doesn’t like a bit of alliteration?! ‘Moonlight Journey’ ‘Super Commuter’. Lots to talk about and new vocabulary to understand on every page turn. Many pages include mathematical details like how far they travel or how fast. Nice maths opportunity if you wanted to compare journeys.

Another adventure through pages…? Oh go on then!

Did you love the Really Wild Show as a child? (Does this reveal my age🙈?)  Well here’s a book from Chris Packham and Jason Cockcroft. This book has a narrative feel about it, making it appeal to fiction and non fiction lovers. The illustrations are beautiful. Another gorgeous maps starts the book off. This is great to compare with the Atlas of Animal Adventures. Book to book work is exciting when children spot similarities.

I love the way the book speaks directly to the reader, ‘ Would you like to meet some masters of migration?’, really inviting children into the pages and journeys. Another joy in the illustrations is the images of children encountering the animals. Beautiful! I’d say it would encourage children to want to engage more with nature themselves.


The ‘discover more’ section at the back can act as a visual index – is the animal in this book? (when we go book to book), but it also offers children extra information on animals they are drawn to.

Now, one from a series of Nature Storybooks by Walker books.

I like the books in this series and the way a narrative runs alongside facts that fit with the storyline. I’ve chosen this one as it fits well within the group, as we can find Turtles in all our books so far (and the illustrations are absolutely stunning!)

You can read just the narrative or just the facts, or enjoy them side by side. Beautiful book!

So let’s really go book to book venturing now. I’ve selected just a few animals, but there are more that link up. I love the idea of children discovering links. You can be explicit in your linking up, or enjoy those spontaneous moments of book joy when they shout out, “we saw that in the other book”, or seeing their face light up as they feel a moment of ‘being the expert’ as they already know something about the animal. You can set them off to discover a particular creature across the books, maybe in groups, or let them select an animal they’re are intrigued by.




Humming birds:

With all that knowledge and enthusiasm, it’s time to step into a story. Bring on my final choice in this glorious group, and it doesn’t disappoint as a finale!

I just love the idea of this book. It’s beautiful and can be used again and again as you tell your own stories. You could do some wonderful oral storytelling in pairs, groups or as a class. I’d model first and encourage children to add all the details they’d learnt along the way. What a lovely outlet for all that new vocabulary. You could of course then write these stories, but give that time and that value to the talk first. Stories are powerful things!

Have a look at these examples linked to the animals I’ve picked out for you:

The back of the book captions each image, giving a starting point for your story. But, best of all, I love the invite to create your own tale!

Now to the curriculum section:

Reading skills:

Link to Children’s own experiences – what journeys have they been on? Were they long or short? Easy or difficult? Have they seen any of these creatures before?

Use ‘Story Worlds Nature’ as a way to show an understanding of what they’ve read.

Sequencing key events from each animal’s journey.

Dictionary work – so many great words to discover. (Don’t forget to check the words are in the dictionaries in your classroom first!)
Identifying the theme across the books.
Identifying conventions across the books. What’s the same?

Summarising – key points from across the books about a specific animal. Give children sentence stems to support this.

Grammar Geek:

Joining words and clauses with ‘and’ – there are lots of lovely examples in Amazing Animal Journeys – by Chris Packham.

The labelled diagrams in Atlas of Animal Adventures are a lovely practice opportunity for expanded noun phrases and putting new vocabulary into use.(told you I’d mention them again).

Using questioning to promote subordination (when, if, because)
Why do wildebeest….?

Writing about real events – take one of the animal’s. Story map or box up their journey, then note on the facts (in One Tiny Turtle style).

A look at text cohesion:
Time fronted adverbials – Take ‘One Tiny Turtle’ and  timeline the turtle’s journey(sneaking in a bit of maths). Then try Post it noting adverbials for each stage.

Pronouns for cohesion and to avoid repetition- Take a page from Atlas of Animal Adventures . Can children spot the linked nouns/pronouns. Scribe an example from Atlas but with no pronouns. Which would children swap?
This also encourages children to assess their own writing in the same way.

I hope this has been useful. Please shout out with any questions or suggestions.

@Mrs_iPad_W – Your resident Reading Rocker




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