Wednesday, March 4, 2009


AUTHOR: Janet Halfmann
ILLUSTRATOR:  Laurie Allen Klein
Review copy provided by Sylvan Dell Publishing

One of my most vivid childhood pet memories involves a gerbil. And his tail. And my father. And a little blood (my father's, not the gerbil's). And several words not appropriate for a children's literature blog. A brief synopsis of that story: Cathy Phillips gave us pet gerbils. My dad was trying to pick up one of the gerbils. You were supposed to pick up gerbils by the tail, but you had to stay pretty close to their body. My dad got too far away. The gerbil somehow bit my dad. The gerbil's tail fell off. My dad swore. 

Ever since that time, I've had a fascination with animals that have parts that come off and grow back. Gerbils. Starfish. And now skinks. LITTLE SKINK'S TAIL is a delightful little story of a blue-tailed skink. One day he is out in the forest eating ants, when a crow tries to eat him. The skink disconnects his tail, which wiggles and distracts his predator long enough for Little Skink to escape. He's glad he's alive, but misses his tail, and spends most of the rest of the book wondering how other tails might look and work on his body.

I know my primary grade friends will love this book. First, they will be fascinated by the idea of the skink losing his tail (An afterword includes several activities about animal tails and footprints, I would have loved to see a page with photographs and information about skinks). I know, too, that my little guys will love joining in on language like puffy-fluffy, sticky-prickly and stinky, stinky, stinky, and I envision myself reading this book over and over again. I also picture our littlest readers picking up this book and reading it to each other- the strong story line and fun language will make it a sure winner.

An added attraction- Sylvan Dell has a website with cross curricular activities related to the book. I especially liked those related to science and math. Activities include a skink diagram to label, a map about skink habitats,  animal cards to sort and classify, an activity about the purposes for tails, and websites to check out. Some really nice, rich thinking activities for our little guys. I've been working with my primary grade teachers on how to make their literacy stations richer and more interesting, and any of these activities would be terrific.

A great addition to any primary grade unit on woodland animals, animal adaptations, or predator/prey relationships…


sexy said...
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Janet Halfmann: said...

Carol, thank you so much for your wonderful review of my book, Little Skink's Tail. And thanks for linking to the additional free activities to go with the book at

vanillajasmine09 said...

I can't access the activities