Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Never Smile at a Monkey

Title: Never Smile at a Monkey
Author: Steve Jenkins
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Genre: Informational
Level: Intermediate
Number of Pages: 32
Pub. Date: 2009
In this picture book by Steve Jenkins, you'll find out what you should never do if you encounter one of the18 surprisingly dangerous animals featured in the book. There is an animal featured on each page with an illustration and a paragraph about how the animal even though a animal you may not think of as a threat, can be dangerous and what the effects will be if you do get stung, bitten, trampled, etc.
Critique: This book is a high quality work in the informational book category. It has many features that make it not only an accurate book, but also a great choice for teachers and readers. The accuracy of the facts is key in an informational book and this book has that. You can tell that by the informational section in the back of the book that states a little bit more background about the animal and the sources where the information is found and even where to continue to read about potentially dangerous animals. Stereotypes are avoided all together and the writing is clear and direct by having one page per animal and only about three to four sentences on each page as well. The information is correct and it also appeals to the young reader with creative text and vibrant illustrations.
Never bother a blue-ringed octopus...
Response: Using the title, I predicted the book to be about monkeys and their personalities. I really like monkeys so I was curious why you shouldn’t smile at them. I was thinking it might be a humorous book and had no idea that it would be about many different animals that are well known, but their dangers are not as well known as they are. This was very interesting to me and although it wasn’t what I expected when I picked it up, I was pleasantly surprised. The information was portrayed in a direct, but engaging way and I learned a lot of new things that I’ve never even heard about before. Who knows, when on a trip to the jungle I’ll be the one who save everyone’s life by telling people to not smile at a monkey just because I read this informational text.
Technology integration:
This website has several videos with this title and it’s author as the highlight. There is a read aloud by the author and a video on how he does his illustrations on natural science. After watching the video, students may be inspired to research other surprisingly dangerous animals and make posters about them with facts that others should know and illustrations that may be inspired by Jenkin’s style. 

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