Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

It has been such a pleasure to introduce my students to the Disgusting Critters series by Elise Gravel. These titles are written partly like a graphic or comic style early reader and partly as a nonfiction picture book. So far, there are four titles published including The Worm, The Fly, The Slug and The Rat. I think The Rat might be my favourite because I feel bravest when I read it. Oh how I despise rats . . .

The Rat: Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

When I first read The Fly in the summer, I knew. I knew these books would be such a hit in my classroom. I had all kinds of ideas:

  • pair them with a more traditional nonfiction series to allow students to continue gathering facts
  • have pairs of students read through and list facts discovered (go on a “fact hunt”) and also list parts of the books that are included for other purposes like humour, story line, etc.
  • make lists of other disgusting critters that might need to have a book devoted to them

Day one and we started with Disgusting Critters.

Independent reading time included a lot of reading devotion to these books.

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

Then I thought . . . what if we made our own “fan art” and designed a Disgusting Critter book jacket? I used some of the terms on the back covers for students to answer for the “back” of their cover:

Special Talent:

Food preference:

Distinctive Trait:


We drew pencil sketches. I made a photocopy. We added colour. One for our bulletin board and one for Elise Gravel. We had lots of interesting “critters” including snails, centipedes, ladybugs, lizards, lobsters and lots of spiders. And many more 🙂

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

We wrote Elise letters full of questions and things we wanted her to notice. Some favourite lines from different letters:

  • I drew the lice because I liked it. Lots of kids have lots of lice, so be careful.
  • Mine is a spider. Did you notice my spider’s eyelashes?
  • I love your art Elise.
  • I hate spiders but I like your art. Can you write about lizards and crabs?
  • I love how you mixed humour and nonfiction.
  • Is writing a book hard?

We wrote thoughtfully . . .

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

We got some help editing for meaning and clarity:

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

Lots of hard work and creativity by all to complete these projects. Some art, some writing, a little research and a bit of creative license.
Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters   I shared much of this with Elise along the way via twitter.

A package of “fan art” and letters is on route to her in Montreal!

So much buzz about these books. Nonfiction that is exciting and engaging? That leads to reading more nonfiction about certain creatures? More Disgusting Critters please Elise Gravel!!

NFPB 2014

Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2014. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!

My goal is to read 65 nonfiction picture books for 2014. Progress: 111/65 complete!

16 thoughts on “Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday: Little Fans of Disgusting Critters

  1. I’ve shared the books with our librarian, Carrie. I love what you’ve done to further the extreme admiration of ‘disgusting’ creatures, especially the students illustrations are marvelous. What fun they must have had discovering “others”!

    • We have had so much fun with this project! The only problem is that as out love for these titles grows, I get asked pretty much daily, “Did Elise publish another Disgusting book yet?” We are impatient for the next ones!

    • Oh dear – you have a case of paranoid lice! It’s the easiest to cure. Just get distracted. As soon as you think of something else, boom – cured. Real lice, on the other hand – sigh, unfortunately I know too much about that one!

  2. On your recommendation I ordered The Slug. I read it to the kids today and they adored it. I ordered all the others this afternoon. I’m going to get the kids to draw and write like yours did. These are fantastic.

  3. This looks like such a fun activity Carrie! Just bought these books for the Lit Pit in French & English…may just have to bring this fan art idea in too! Thanks for sharing!

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