Life-Size Zoo: From Tiny Rodents to Gigantic Elephants, An Actual Size Animal Encyclopedia by Teruyuki Komiya (Creator), Kristin Earhart (Editor), and Toyofumi Fukuda (Photographer) was a Cybils finalist in the 2009 Nonfiction Picture book category and has won the Parents’ Choice Gold Award.
The premise of Life Size Zoo is deceptively simple. Each spread shows fantastic life size photograph of an actual zoo animal, its head in the case of the biggest animals. The name of each animal, its gender and age are included. The spare words on the page point to a distinctive feature, such as the tiger’s rough tongue. The sidebar points out a few facts and asks some simple questions. It seems straightforward.
Once you start using the book, however, its real charm and value emerge. Every time I read this book to a group or with an individual child, the story has been different. Often I hear of trips to various zoos, individual animals that are favorites, the child’s observations of each animals, etc. Each time we find something new in the photographs. Often the discussion leads to more questions, which in turn lead to more stories. It is definitely a fun, kid-friendly book that is very much an open-ended story prompt. You won’t get bored reading this one again and again.
A note to parents: some of the sidebars include information about the animal’s bodily functions (a selling point to fourth grade boys ).
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Seven Footer Press (April 7, 2009)
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