Butterfly Wings

Our Life in Posts and Pictures

ER VETS: LIFE IN AN ANIMAL EMERGENCY ROOM – Informational Book October 29, 2008

Filed under: Informational Books — anet smith @ 4:40 pm


Jackson, Donna M.  ER Vets:  Life in an Animal Emergency Room.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2005.  ISBN:  06188436634



Author Donna M. Jackson gives readers a behind the scenes look at the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital at Colorado State University.  Much information is included:  how animals are triaged; descriptions of specialists in emergency veterinary medicine; history of vets; what a day in the life of an ER vet is like; information on grief counseling when a pet dies; harmful foods for pets; and more.  Stories of a dog HBC (Hit by Car), a python with hypothermia, and a newborn foal in need of oxygen complete this fast-paced book about emergency veterinary medicine.



At first this book seemed long, but as I started reading it, it read quickly and I wanted to keep reading to find out what happened next.  The plentiful and quality photographs support the text by helping clarify the pet’s situation.  I also liked the way the text focuses both on the animals and the people who are caring for them.  It gave a full picture of what being at an emergency veterinary hospital would be like.


The book is organized well and has explanations for the photographs and insets of additional veterinary information (such as pet vital statistics). Jackson does a careful job of noting her sources with both interviews conducted and literature used cited.  This is an interesting book!


The chapter “Lucy Slips Away” was personally helpful to me as we added a new reptile pet to our family.



BOOKLIST:  “…Jackson gives both pets and their caregivers their due, and numerous, excellent photos, including a look at a surgery in progress, make this not only intriguing browsing material but also an honest initiation to a worthwhile career.”


SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL:  “With plentiful, excellent-quality photographs, this highly visual book offers a behind-the-scenes look at an emergency animal hospital in Colorado.”




*2006 Orbis Pictus Honor Book for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children and other honors.

*Use this book to teach about access features.

*Use with any study of books with endpapers (I have become a fan of endpapers!)

*Great for exploring future job choices.

*Also by Jackson

The Wildlife Detectives: How Forensic Scientists Fight Crimes Against Nature ISBN: 0395869765


ANIMALS NOBODY LOVES – Photo Essay October 28, 2008

Filed under: Informational Books — anet smith @ 2:19 pm


Simon, Seymour.  Animals Nobody Loves. New York:  Sea Star Books, 2001.  ISBN:  1587170809



This rich photo essay portrays twenty “unlovable” animals including the shark, hyena, rat, fire ant, and piranha.  Popular science writer, Seymour Simon seeks to expose myths of animals with bad reputations and hopes readers will have more understanding and respect of the animals.  Most photos cover more than a page and are up close, colorful and beautiful.



Although some argue that the information provided is brief, I would say that is okay.  The book is meant as survey, providing interesting facts showing either the good the animal does or what to do if you encounter one.  However, Simon does not cite sources.  Even though he is a prolific science writer, a bibliography would give credibility to the facts.  Many of the animal photographs have a “gross-factor” and some are graphic showing prey so very young readers may be bothered. 


Most children love animal books and even though these aren’t the ones most popularly written about, children will still find it a fascinating book.  I love that the very end of the book encourages critical thinking and more reading. 



KIRKUS REVIEWS:  “While the eyeballs-to-eyeballs cover of a tarantula in full color will keep readers reaching for the title, it is useful for browsing rather than research.”


BOOKLIST: “There’s no question this will look great on display, but it will serve kids best when it’s presented with more fact-rich natural histories.”



*As a writing assignment, have students do what the end of the books suggests, “Perhaps you might make your own list of animals that you don’t love and think about why each of these animals is on your list.”

*Classify the twenty animals in the book.

*Show students with this book that it is okay to not read non-fiction cover-to-cover.  Encourage them to read only about the animals they find interesting.

*Since the information provided is not in-depth, have students select an animal and research it more fully.

*Include the book for browsing in an animal unit.

*Simon’s website is http://www.seymoursimon.com/



Filed under: Informational Books — anet smith @ 12:20 pm


Krull, Kathleen.  Houdini:  World’s Greatest Mystery Man and Escape King.  Ill. by Eric Velasquez.  New York: Walker & Co., 2005.  ISBN:  0802789544



In this picture book biography, Krull chronicles the life of Erik Weiss from his early life through his famous performances and ending with his death in 1926 and information regarding how he was able to accomplish such amazing feats. At an early age, Houdini performed for money in his backyard, later after memorizing a book about magic he traveled and performed twelve shows a day.  In both instances he contributed money to his struggling family.  Between each small chapter is a description in verse of one of Houdini’s escape acts.  They are in chronological order and include:  The Milk Can Escape, The Metamorphosis, The Underwater Handcuff Release, The Water Torture Cell, and The Suspended Straitjacket.



This book is on the 2006 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, Selector’s Choice list.  It is easy to see why it is notable as before reading Houdini by Krull, I did not realize such quality biography for elementary students existed.  The book cleverly and clearly sequences information about Houdini’s life interspersed with verse describing some of his acts.  This makes the reader feel a part of Houdini’s world and the accompanying illustrations add to the feeling of “you are there”.  The oil illustrations are also bright and appealing.  The bibliography included contributes to the accuracy of Krull’s work and the web sources are sure to delight Houdini fans. Although some refer to the book as narrow in scope, I think it is perfect for the intended age range (Ages 6 – 10).



KIRKUS REVIEWS:  “Budding magicians won’t find more than hints here of how Houdini did it, but a tempting set of print and digital resources caps this perceptive and dramatic tribute.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY:  “A fine introduction to a fascinating, enigmatic figure.”

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “The author’s crisp narrative style and careful choice of detail are evident here.”



*Also by Kathleen Krull

Pocahontas:  Princess of the New World

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Dreams Taking Flight (Teacher’s Guide available at www.kathleenkrull.com)

*For older readers

Houdini: Master of Illusion by Clinton Cox.  ISBN: 9780590949606

*Use an idea from “17 Specific Ways to Use Biographies” at http://home.san.rr.com/kathleenkrull/biography.html

I liked Biopoems and Writing Classmates’ Biographies.