It’s Wednesday – the day to share some love for a nonfiction picture book.
Pink is for Blobfish: Discovering the World’s Perfectly Pink Animals written by Jess Keating with illustrations by David DeGrand (Knopf Books for Young Readers February 2016)
This book! That cover! That gelatinous blob? I really didn’t even believe this creature on the cover was real – or at least looked like this. So I looked up images of blobfish. Yep, they really are this challenged in the aesthetically pleasing department. Author Jess Keating shares that they were voted ugliest animal in the world and I would have to agree, they are worthy of top prize. But there is a lot more to this fish than its not pretty face!
I will also say that I had a really, really hard time reading this book. Honestly, I couldn’t sit in one place and just read it because I had to keep stopping and leaping up to write down ideas of how to use this book in class. Wow, does this book have crazy amounts of classroom potential. Although, I am sure you could just put it out on display and say nothing and that cover would sell itself! I could imagine within moments it would be passed around and marvelled at in the classroom. Mr. Blobfish, you are such a cover model!
But because it is spring break and I have no children to use this book with for at least another week, I have decided to share in an enthusiastic (and maybe not so organized) way all of the ideas I had while reading it. The irony of this “blob” on the cover and all of the energy this book gave me, did not go unnoticed.
This title features a number of “pink” creatures from around the world and shares some of the wild and wacky facts about each one. Every page also includes specific information under these headings: Name, Species name, Size, Diet, Habitat, Predators and threats. Back matter is fantastic including: a colour coded map of where to find each creature featured in the book, a glossary of useful words, more resources if you want to learn more and some scientist careers to aspire to (i.e. Want to learn more about reptiles? You can be a herpetologist)
How I might/should/could/will use this book in the classroom:
- Brainstorm: What are all the pink animals we can think of. (I will admit I didn’t get much further than flamingo and earth worm (are they even considered pink?))
- Ask: What colours do we normally associate with animals? In our local environment? Why is that? What about in different habitats around the world? Different biospheres? Where do we see more colours? Fewer colours?
- Brainstorm in small groups: Can we think of some colours and try and name a number of animals under each colour category?
- Read and ask: On the inside jacket flap it begins: “Some people think pink is a pretty color. A fluffy, sparkly, princessy color.” What are your associations with the colour pink. (chart these to compare to later)
- Notice and ask: What organization do we see on each page in terms of structure, headings, lay out?
- Turn and talk: After we know structure, reveal name and photograph and have students predict in turn and talk partners/small groups about information they will learn. For example: “Here is the Pinktoe Tarantula, with your turn and talk partner think about and predict: Where would we find these creatures? Who would there predators be? What do you think they eat? When we share, be prepared to support your predictions.” After student discussion and sharing, read the page and talk about what was learned, what was surprising, what was confirmed.
- Turn and talk: After certain pages ask: “With your turn and talk partner, share what was the most interesting fact about this creature? What surprised you the most? What are you still wondering?”
- Chart: Create a chart with these headings: Creature, Natural Predators, Threats For each page, fill this in and look at trends as you go. How many of these creatures have many predators vs few? How many are threatened because of deforestation? Pollution? Habitat loss?
- Ask: What is your favourite of all the pink animals in this book? Why do you think Jess Keating decided to use blobfish in the title Pink is for ________ Would another animals have sounded as interesting? Think about the cover with another animal. The way it would sound, the image, etc. Was blobfish the best choice?
- Look again: Do we have any new words we would associate with the colour pink after reading this book? Don’t share the back cover until this time and compare your list to this list.
- Look closely: Look at the map in the back pages. Where do we see the most pink creatures? What do we notice? Why?
- Mini research project: Choose an animal and make a (Colour) is for __________ page using same structure as Jess Keating did in her book (with same headings, etc.) This could become a class book. Orange is for fox, White is for arctic hare, etc.
- Research: What is the status of each of these creatures. Endangered? Threatened?
This title has so much potential in the classroom and I am beyond excited that it appears to be the first in a series: The World of Weird Animals. Jess Keating is just kind of generally amazing – visit her site here. And if you didn’t know . . . she has a Youtube channel: Animals for Smart People See? Amazing!
Thanks to Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy for the inspiration to read and share more nonfiction picture books in 2016. Follow the link to Alyson’s blog to read about more nonfiction books you need to read!