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The Animal Book: A Collection of the Fastest, Fiercest, Toughest, Cleverest, Shyest—and Most Surprising—Animals on Earth

Last updated Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Author: Steve Jenkins
Date of Publication: 2013
ISBN: 054755799X
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2018

Synopsis: Animals smooth and spiky, fast and slow, hop and waddle through the two hundred plus pages of the Caldecott Honor artist Steve Jenkins’s most impressive nonfiction offering yet. Sections such as "Animal Senses," "Animal Extremes," and "The Story of Life" burst with fascinating facts and infographics that will have trivia buffs breathlessly asking, “Do you know a termite queen can produce up to 30,000 eggs a day?”

Note to readers:
•  You can skip around in the book to different sections. There is a contents page for a list of the different sections.
•  Glossary begins on page 192.
•  Sections of interest: Family-Siblings (pg 46); Animal Senses-Listen (pg 56), Smell and taste (pg 60); Predators-Ambush (pg 72); Defenses-Hiding in plain sight (pg 90); Animal Extremes-The biggest ever (pg 112); The Story of Life-We're all related (pg 154)

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What are your favorite animals?
•  Are you afraid of any animals?
•  Do you have any pets?


•  Species: a group of living things
•  Predator: animal that hunts other animals for food
•  Prey: animal that is hunted
•  Organism: individual living thing (Plant/animal)

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Have you ever been to the zoo and seen any of these animals?
•  What was the most interesting thing you learned?
•  What is the largest animal to have ever lived? (Blue Whale)

Craft ideas:
•  Construction paper collages animals (to look like book illustrations)
•  Paper bag animal puppets
•  Paper plate animal masks
•  Paper chain caterpillar
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

Special activities:
•  Use your phone to play different animal sounds for the kids.

*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!