Let’s jump straight in to the interactive pages and see what we discover:
The book shares with us 8 wonderful habitats and the fascinating flora and fauna that live there, from the depths of the ocean to the heights of clifftops. The language used by Patricia is simple enough for younger readers to engage with, yet shares a treasure of technical vocabulary to inspire young minds.
Each habitat has a double-page spread with a split-page lift-the-flap, inviting the reader to delve beneath the surface of the given environment. I love this set up: so simple yet so innovative. As little fingers lift the flap, they can discover who lives above and below the water, under the ground, inside the cave and behind the rocks. On the opposite page, you will find a bite-size nugget of factual joy. The real vocabulary will create questions – brilliant! What are crustaceans? Can we discover more demersal creatures? What makes a creature sociable? I will most definitely be using this book alongside other non-fiction books to grow knowledge and interest. Reading grows readers!
Included in the information are lots of numerical facts, including measurements and percentages. I like the idea of using this real information to secure mathematical concepts. Let’s take the Albatross’s wingspan, which we discover is 3.4m and the largest of any bird. Wouldn’t it be great to draw this out in real scale? Figure out what one wing measures? Maybe wear the wingspan to see how it feels? Or let’s take the eel, which we discover can grow to 2m in length. Why not make a string 2m long? What else is as long as an eel? Or the wild turkey, which can be heard gobbling up to 1.6km away? How far away can you be heard? ….. I could go on! You see how much fun you could have?!
I mentioned the gorgeous illustrations earlier, but let’s just talk about them a little more. The stunning style of Hanako Clulow is perfectly pitched for this book: a great balance between accuracy and illustration. Matching up the creatures across the pages is good fun and a natural opportunity for page scanning. You really feel like you are engaging with the book as the reader. Young readers can dip in and out, discovering new things each time, following their own line of interest. Each habitat has a generous helping of intriguing details to discover and pore over. I just love the style of these creatures! I have a few favourites that you can hunt out for yourselves – the ermine and the sloth!
Some of the habitats will be a little familiar to young readers from well-known stories they have shared, as well as real experiences. A few came to mind as I was reading. It would be lovely to pair up this book with these fiction books: maybe to support understanding of the story; maybe to follow or generate interest; maybe to feed a writing task(so many great ideas to innovate children’s own versions). Here’s a few you might like to try (I’m sure you’ll think of others, too) : The River and Forest habitat would fit nicely with ‘The Gruffalo’; The Mountain Caves habitat would work well with ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’; The Savannah habitat could fit with Handa’s Surprise or Tinga Tinga Tales.
For teachers reading this, I think it’d make a great book for Y2, fitting well with your science curriculum on Living Things and Habitats. For Y3 this book presents a nice opportunity to teach and practise prepositions and prepositional phrases. (grammar geek alert!)