Sunday, May 9, 2010

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page

Authors Steve Jenkins and Robin Page question the reader about their knowledge of six different animals and how they must find or catch food in order to survive in their habitats.

In the introductory page, the authors state: "there are millions of different kinds of animals, and they have come up with some ingenious solutions to these problems. See if you can figure out how the animals in these pages will snare a fish, hatch an egg, use a leaf, catch a fly, dig a hole, or eat a clam." The intro is closed by a statement to the reader that if he would like more information about the animals, that they will be able to find more facts in the back of the book.

The text of the question is the largest font size for each of the animals, while a "thumbnail" image of the images on the following pages is noted at the very bottom of the page. For example, the first question asks, "How many ways can you snare a fish?" Below the question it states a fact about fish and how they "have clever enemies, and most face the constant threat of being eaten by other animals."

Thumbnail images of a bear, eel, dolphin, matamata, diving beetle, and anhinga are at the bottom of the page. The pages following this question include larger illustrations of these thumbail images, with their specific names, the manner in which they capture the fish, and an illustration that depicts the "snaring" of the fish. "As salmon swim upstream to lay their eggs, a grizzly bear waits, it stands in teh rapids and grabs fish in midair as they leap from the water." "The matamata rests on the bottom of a lake or stream. When a fish comes near, it sticks out its neck, opens its mouth, an expands its throat. The sudden suction pulls the fish into the turtle's mouth."

Jenkins and Page creatively place the text to wrap around the animals and their surroundings, while creating a collage of answers to the question stated. The cut-and-torn paper collage images allow for close-up views of the animals, while making this picture book an eye-opening fact-based story that will fascinate children in a large or small group read-aloud.

The animals and their accompanying facts will provide even the most inquisitive readers with something to take away from the story. There are many animals in this story that I did not know existed before reading it. So I found myself taking the authors advice and discovering more information about the matamata or the white tent bats. However, a centralized theme is created among the animals in that although their approaches may be different, they all respond to their environment in a manner for survivial

The story encourages the readers to predict, confirm, clear up misconceptions, ask questions to themselves, and research what they still wonder about after reading. After all, isn't this what we want every time from our children when reading nonfiction? Illustrations that are visually exciting, topics that capture their interests, and prompting from the authors to answers to their continuing questions.

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