Monday, October 12, 2020

Nonfiction Monday


RIVER OTTER’S ADVENTURE by Linda Stanek with illustrations by Shennen Bersani relates a narrative nonfiction story about a young river otter that sneaks into a zoo. The text offers a compare and contrast tale as the otter explores living like the reptiles and mammals that are encountered one after another.  She enjoys pretending to be a trunk-swinging elephant, a slippery salamander, a stalking tiger and others, but each encounter also reminds her of what she’d miss about being an otter.


The author weaves facts into the read-aloud story and expands on the factual material at the end. Colorful double-page spreads provide realistic reinforcement to this charming and educational offering for young readers ages 4-8.

 Readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section, titled For Creative Minds, where additional discussions provide a wealth of facts.

“Basic Needs and Living and Nonliving Things” reviews the various requirements that otters depend on and challenges readers to identify which things in a river otter’s habitat are living or nonliving. “North American River Otter or Sea Otter?” provides an informational chart to help readers differentiate between the two types of otters. “North American River Otter Adaptations” discusses the special ways in which otters are uniquely suited to their environment.

 The publisher, Arbordale, provides teaching activities guide at

 An excellent STEM resource for introducing young readers to otters and the concept of adaptation. Recommended for home, school, and library.

Monday, October 5, 2020

 ANIMAL HOMES by nature photographer, Mary Holland, introduces young readers to the methods in which animals construct and use their homes for shelter in this new addition to her collection of award-winning books.

Full-color closeups are underscored by age appropriate text that offers insights into the many ways in which animals build their homes. Some utilize natural materials – beavers form their lodges using branches and mud. Squirrels fashion nests of twigs, bark, leaves, and moss. Other animals like bears, woodchucks, foxes, and coyotes live in dens and tunnels underground. Insects have a variety of home building skills. Bald-faced hornets chew wood and their saliva creates a paste that dries into paper. Spittle bugs create a home fashioned from bubbles.

The book identifies an audience of ages 5-8. Younger readers will enjoy the strong visual impact of the images and benefit from reading with an adult or older sibling. Experienced readers will find the text engaging and will discover more information in the final section titled For Creative Minds where additional discussions review the many specific ways in which animals are home builders. A “Mix and Match” page challenges readers to match photos of animals with their choice of building materials.  “Which Are Animal Homes?” asks readers to identify pictures of animal dwellings. A third section provides an opportunity to pair an animal with its home.

The publisher, Arbordale, offers a teaching activity guide that is available at

An excellent STEM resource. Recommended for home, school, and library.

The Gingerbread Cowboy Book Trailer