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Living Color

Last updated Thursday, March 24, 2011

Author: Steve Jenkins
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Date of Publication: 2007
ISBN: 0618708979
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2011

Synopsis: Booklist

It's difficult to imagine a science topic better suited to picture-book form than this one, which offers a pageant of the most stunning, vividly hued creatures on the planet. For children somewhat older than Jenkins' usual readership, this book opens by explaining that bright coloration goes beyond mere decoration: "If an animal is very colorful, it is likely that its brilliant skin, scales or feathers somehow help it stay alive." Arranged by color, subsequent spreads feature a rainbow of animals rendered in Jenkins' celebrated cut-paper style. Each picture is accompanied by a paragraph of nicely distilled information, most effective when it specifically links color to survival tactics such as camouflage, mating, or the repulsion of predators. An accessible afterword explaining more about coloration is followed by a pictorial appendix that includes approximate sizes for the book's 66 creatures (the preceding depictions are not to scale, allowing Jenkins to lavish full attention on even the fingernail-size pygmy seahorse). From the pink fairy armadillo to the purple deep-sea dragonfish, readers will be fascinated by the panoply of critters that often seem the stuff of fairy lore, and educators will applaud the clever concept of presenting survival adaptations as a biological fashion show.

Note to readers:
•  This is an encyclopedia-type book, rather than a storybook. Volunteers can have kids choose their favorite colors and/or animals to read about. Before reading each part, have the kids guess which animals are each color: red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple, pink

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What animals do you see on the front and back cover?
•  Have you seen these animals before?
•  What is your favorite color? Vocabulary
•  Scales
•  Penetrate
•  Venomous
•  Tentacles
•  Dominant
•  Amphibians
•  Toxins
•  Accumulate
•  Dappled
•  Transparent
•  Defenseless
•  Amplifies
•  Foliage
•  Abdomen
•  Barbell
•  Filament

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Were any animals in the book surprising or unusual colors?

Craft ideas:
•  Create a color wheel (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo/purple, violet/pink). Write in descriptive words or animals for each color. For example: Red- scarlet, blood red fire, cherry-red, flame.
•  Draw a picture of an animal from the book. Then, switch drawings with a classmate and color it your favorite color.
•  Cut out a picture of a colorful animal and paste on a page of complementary color.

*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!