Written by Anthony D. Fredricks
Illustrated by Jennifer DiRubbio
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Once a tree falls down it’s dead and gone, right? Wrong! It turns out that a fallen log can be a home, a hiding place, or even a tasty snack.
Using a variety of story telling devices, author and educator Tony Fredericks shows readers just how much can happen “Around One Log”. The central narrative follows a class field trip, cleverly explaining why each new creature is introduced by “this is the…” The field trip is only directly evident when a student appears at the very end to ask a question. This pushes the book out of strict non-fiction and into the category of creative non-fiction or informational fiction, while at the same time helping the reader connect to the action.
Told in cumulative verse, the near perfect rhyme and rhythm makes this part of the book an easy read aloud. Unfortunately, the most often repeated lines are the weakest;
From top to bottom, inside and out,
Both friend and foe all ramble about.
This part of the book is a bit too simplistic for the average 4th grade reader who is more likely to appreciate the introduction – a letter from a roly poly which draws the reader into the animal’s world. There are also “Field Notes” at the end to provide more detail, including a “fantastic fact” about each critter. Complicated words are defined in parentheses within the text, making the entire package accessible (and perhaps more appropriate) for children in the earlier grades.
Similarly, the section “Activities, Projects, and Lots of Cool Ideas” can be adapted by teachers and parents to suit the needs of both younger and older students. Three additional activities are available to educators as a PDF download from the publishers website (http://www.dawnpub.com/downloadable_activities_book/) Primarily writing exercises, they also include key concepts and additional resources.
Beautiful watercolor pictures accompany the text. The log really does come to life with the art of Jennifer DiRubbio who makes great use of both texture and color, no small feat given that the setting is brown. One word of caution – viewing the ebook version on my iPad separated the two page spreads. This resulted in text heavy pages interspersed with image only pages and the unfortunate decapitation of a salamander.
Fredericks and DiRubbio have collaborated on other books about communities of animals in various natural habitats. With titles such as “Under One Rock” and “On One Flower” these books most certainly follow the same formula that has earned “Around One Log” an award winning reputation. This book provides wonderful imagery and multiple approaches to learning, offering something different to students of all ages.
- Title: Around One Log: Chipmunks, Spiders, and Creepy Insiders
- Author: Anthony D. Fredricks
- Illustrator: Jennifer DiRubbio
- Publisher: Dawn Publications
- Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
- ebook: 36 pages
- ISBN: 978-1-58469-137-2 (hardback)
- Genre: Nature