Nature Recycles: How About You?

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Title:  Nature Recycles:  How About You?

Author:  Michelle Lord

Illustrator:  Cathy Morrison

Target Ages:  4-8

First Lines: “The decorator sea urchin lives in the Atlantic Ocean.  The water is warm, but he covers up. Urchin wears colorful algae, rocks, and coral.  He wears ocean refuse like old oyster shells.”

Publisher Summary: “From sea urchins in the Atlantic Ocean to bandicoots on the Australian savanna, animals all over the world recycle. Explore how different animals in different habitats use recycled material to build homes, protect themselves and get food. This fascinating collection of animal facts will teach readers about the importance of recycling and inspire them to take part in protecting and conserving the environment by recycling in their own way.”

EvaluationNature Recycles:  How About You? presents the idea of recycling in a fresh and natural approach.  I never thought about the normal activities of the animals highlighted, like the woodpecker finch, octopus, caddisfly larva, and poison dart frog, as recycling.  In interesting ways, they recycle and reuse items left behind by plants and other creatures, often in highly creative ways. Readers get the sense of the circle of life as one living thing’s trash becomes a treasure for another.

The author keeps the idea of recycling at the forefront.  After a description of each creatures’ activities, she states:

(The creatures) recycle.

How about you?

AAwhereThis question opens up an opportunity to discuss ways people can improve their recycling and reusing practices.  An outstanding supplement book that provides extra information is Where Do Garbage Trucks Go? And Other Questions about Trash and Recycling (Benjamin Richmond). Thirteen common questions are answered about areas, such as why trash smells, what makes some garbage dangerous, and what is a recycling plant.

Cathy Morrison does a beautiful job on the illustrations in Nature Recycles:  How About You? Different habitats are shown, such as the ocean, desert, river, savannah, and forest. Each habitat is depicted in vivid detail, providing an opportunity to discuss the subject further.

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Emerging readers will easily understand this straight forward text as it is being read aloud. There are several examples of onomatopoeia related to animals sounds that children can mimic. Beginning readers can decode it with minimal adult help or independently.

The book finishes off with 4-pages of extension ideas and activities.  However, there is much, much more provided FREE at the Arbordale website for each of their titles.

Both fascinating and educational, Nature Recycles:  How About You? is a great non-fiction read.

from Books4Learning

 

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Nonfiction Monday: Becoming Ben Franklin (Russell Freedman)

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Summary
Benjamin Franklin is a remarkable man. Raised in humble circumstances, he left home to far surpass his parents’ station in life. He is the epitome of a man who pulled himself up by his boot straps—the quintessential American. Not only was he insatiably curious, but he used it to create useful items, such as a lightening rod, the Franklin stove, and bifocal glasses. His contributions to society went beyond material things to include a library, a university, a fire company, and a philosophical society. Anyone would be proud to have so many accomplishments! Yet, his do not stop there.

His most important role was as a founding father of this great country. Interestingly, Franklin wished to remain loyal to England for much of his life. It was not until he spent many years in England working as an ambassador that he realized that the colonies had to declare their independence. He also spent a decade in France securing their assistance during the war and their help in recognizing the country as independent. Along with John Adams and John Jay, he eventually negotiated and secured peace with England. He was involved in the composition of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He is the Forrest Gump of America’s founding—somehow he is in the middle of all the significant events.

The struggles and joys of Franklin’s personal life are also highlighted. While he was primarily loved by a wide circle of people spanning two continents, he had a falling out with his son, a run in with English parliament, and a personal failure running against an opponent.

All of these areas humanized Franklin beyond all the fanfare of his community and political persona.

Evaluation
The first biography I remember ever reading is Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman. I was completely enthralled in it. I did not think much of the writing at the time (it was long, long ago before I really paid attention to such things). I gave more credit to the subject. I mean, who doesn’t find Lincoln fascinating? However, I re-read the book a few years ago. It was then that I realized what a master story teller Freedman is.

I picked up Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty because it was written by Freedman. I knew he was a “founding father” in a vague sense. I honestly did not know much else about Ben Franklin outside of the kite story and his almanac.

I was immediately engage in Freedman’s narrative of Franklin’s life. The story was even more thrilling because his life story parallels the founding of our country. Freedman does a masterful job intertwining Franklin’s personal story with historical events and observations from his contemporaries. The narrative gives a strong sense of his strengths and weaknesses as person. On one hand he was passionate, personable, and persuasive. However, he could also be prideful and resentful.

The layout of the book is kid-friendly. Nearly every page has a photograph illustrating a person or event from the narrative. The pictures break up the text, making the pages and chapters less daunting for reluctant readers. Second, the pictures also provide essential visuals for youngsters to get a sense of what life looked like 200 years ago—from the dress, to the wigs, to the quill pens. The book is broken down into short chapters ranging from 9 to 13 pages, each about a different phase in Franklin’s life. This attribute makes it ideal for teachers who want to focus on a specific area and for children who feel more comfortable reading in shorter increments.

Overall, I highly recommend Becoming Ben Franklin: How a Candle-Maker’s Son Helped Light the Flame of Liberty for ages 8 and up. The book is sure to engage young and mature readers with its vibrant content and engaging text.

For Teaching Opportunities and other reviews, visit http://books4learning.blogspot.com/2014/06/nonfiction-monday-becoming-ben-franklin.html