Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Children's Book Review: Little Skink's Tail by Janet Halfmann

Little Skink's Tail
By Janet Halfmann
Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein
Sylvan Dell Publishing, 2007
ISBN: 978-0976882381 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 978-1934359204 (Paperback)
Also available as a Spanish/English ebook
Ages 4-8, fiction picture book
32 pg 8.5'' X 10''

Publisher Synopsis:

While Little Skink hunts yummy ants for breakfast, she is suddenly attacked by a crow! But she has a trick to escape – she snaps off her tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Little Skink is happy to be alive, but she misses her bright blue tail. Little Skink’s Tail follows Little Skink as she daydreams of having the tails of other animals in the forest. Readers will enjoy pretending with her, trying on tail after tail. The first is too puffy-fluffy, and another too stinky! Then one day Little Skink gets a big surprise…and she doesn’t have to dream of tails anymore.


A "
For Creative Minds" section at the back of the book features a mix-and-match tail activity, footprint map, and information on tail adaptations. Publisher's Author Profile:

Janet Halfmann has been writing for children for more than twenty years, and this is her 28th book. Before becoming a full-time freelance children’s writer, she was a manager, editor, and writer of coloring and activity books for Golden Books; the editor of a national children’s magazine; and a reporter for a daily newspaper. A member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Janet has recently published Alligator at Saw Grass Road (fall 2006), Polar Bear Horizon, Canada Goose at Cattail Lane, Dolphin's Rescue, Red Bat at Sleepy Hollow Lane, and Pelican’s Catch.

Janet was inspired to write Little Skink’s Tail while researching for one of her other books, Nature’s Predators: Lizards, and for an article that she wrote for Ranger Rick, “Slinky Skinks.” Another inspiration was her granddaughter, whom she enjoys watching play dress-up and pretend. As Janet wrote the book, she pictured her granddaughter putting on and showing off each tail. For more information, visit her website:
http://www.janethalfmann.com/

Book Awards:
  • Best Children's Book, plus Gold Awards in Educators' Choice and Animal Kingdom categories: Mom's Choice Awards
  • Teachers' Choice Award: Learning Magazine
  • Best Picture Book & Best Overall Book: Florida Publishers Association
  • Just Read, Florida! Recommended Summer Reading Program

Review:

When Janet contacted me to review her Little Skink's Tail, I was eager to see it because I'm always looking for quality nonfiction picture books. While the main character has been given an inquisitive personality, the narrative is factual and very descriptive.

The teacher in me appreciated how Halfmann described the various types of tails and why they wouldn't work for Little Skink. She provides good examples of interesting ways to do so, using what I used to refer to with my students as "active word choices" that are needed so their writing isn't boring. For example, talking about how the deer's tail is, "So short and stubby." How the word choices help conjour up a visual and then also talking about what stubby means.

I also loved learning about a little known animal, don't think I'd even heard of a skink before this book! My daughter was intrigued by the idea of her tail coming off. She especially liked that it was blue. The storyline is cute, engages children's imaginations, and the watercolor illustrations are lovely and detailed. It would be fun to make a class book afterward, with the kids imagining what body part they might like to switch into an animals.

The "For Creative Minds" section is well done and provides more educational extension activities, including natural sciences. Over all, I highly reccommend you add this title to your home library.

Disclaimer: I received an this title in ebook format to review from the publisher, and it relates my own unbiased opinions and experiences with it. Yours may differ.

4 Friends Said:

Ticia said...

That looks fun. I too am always looking for good nonfiction books.

Missy said...

Thanks for sharing the book review. It sounds pretty good. I bet my daughter would really like it. Oh, your gingerbread pancakes look yummy!

BTW, Thanks for your comments as well. Have a good day!

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

This sounds like a neat book. I didn't know what a skink was, either =)

Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

Katie, thank you so much for your wonderful review of Little Skink's Tail. I especially liked your comments about your daughter. I'm still amazed, too, by how skinks and so many other lizards can snap off their tails and then grow new ones. And blue is my favorite color, too! Happy Reading to all!

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