Saturday, August 29, 2009

GORILLA'S STORY- Harriet Blackford

Today at the library (notice I did not say bookstore!) I found a really lovely new picture book. GORILLA'S STORY traces the life of a young silverback gorilla from the day he is born until the day he assumes leadership of his own family of female gorillas. It's told as a story, tracing the life of the gorilla, but it's totally based on fact, and it has tons and tons and tons of really detailed information about gorillas embedded on every page. At the end of the book, a letter from the author explains that the silverback is an endangered gorilla, and tells kids what they can do to help. The illustrations by Manya Stojic, are beautiful, beautiful, full color page-covering paintings.

When I looked for this book online, it said the intended audience was children from ages 3-6. I totally disagree with that. This is an EVERYBODY book. It's a fairly long story, and I don't know if I'd use it much before kindergarten, but I think kids from kindergarten to fifth grade would enjoy the story and would learn a lot about gorillas (I especially liked how Blackford explains how a young male comes to adulthood and is driven out of his father's family, then has to find drive away an aging male to take over his own group of females). I also think this would be a terrific mentor text for the dreaded "animal report." Kids could start by listening to GORILLA'S STORY (or Blackford's TIGER'S STORY or ELEPHANT'S STORY, that I have never seen, but am definitely going to look for now). Think I'd probably read it one time, so kids could just enjoy the story and illustrations. The next time through, I would give kids clipboards, and ask them to list all of the facts they hear embedded in the story. Finally, I'd let them try writing their own animal stories, using facts they had learned about animals they were studying.

A really lovely new "nonfiction-ish" picturebook.

1 comment:

Beth S. said...

Ooh! Thanks for the great mentor text recommendation. I just finished reading a few books this summer about using mentor texts with student writing and I'm looking for as many good mentor texts as I can find.