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The Perfect Nest

Last updated Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Author: Catherine Friend
Illustrator: John Manders
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 763624306
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jan. 2010

Synopsis: This highly comical yet heartwarming tale begins simply enough. Jack, a hungry farm cat, builds a perfect nest to attract the perfect chicken to lay a perfect egg for a delicious omelet. Everything is going even better than planned when he lures a chicken, a duck, and a goose, and each one lays a yummy egg. Unfortunately, Jack cannot convince any of them to leave the nest though he tries with cries of "Flood!" "Fire!" and "Wolf!" Finally he appeals to their greedy nature by telling of the better and empty nest at the farm down the road. They take off immediately, but before Jack can enjoy the eggs left behind, they hatch, and, to his horror, the chicks target him as mom. He can't possibly eat them. In the end, as he snuggles with the tired babies, he realizes how perfect his nest really is. This amusing tale gives each of the nesters a different nationality (French, American, Spanish) complete with accent. Manders's gouache illustrations are a perfect complement to the text. The bickering poultry; the hungry, then desperate, and finally horrified cat; the demanding chicks; and the auxiliary characters are all given wonderfully detailed expressions that can be laugh-out-loud funny. Varying perspectives in the illustrations give a nice sense of movement to the tale. The text gives the mood and action of the story and the art really brings it to life.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What kind of animals make nests?
•  What other names do animals have?
•  (Looking at cover art) What do you think the cat is doing there?
•  Do you live in a nest? During the Reading:
•  What is Jack doing?
•  Do you think Jack’s plan will work?
•  What language is the chicken speaking? (Spanish)
•  What language is the duck speaking? (French)
•  What language is the goose speaking? (Southern Accent)
•  Why are the birds fighting?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What would make a perfect nest/home for you?
•  Do you have a favorite chair or place in your home? Does anyone try to take it away from you? What happens?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw a picture of a family.
•  Draw a picture of your favorite place.
•  Draw a picture of a cat and 3 chicks.

Special activities:
•  Have the kids walk to make noises like the animals. (Cluck/headbob for chicken, waddle/quack for duck and goose.)
•  Play “Duck, Duck, Goose” game.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!