The new picture book Fatima and the Clementine Thieves by Mireille Messier and illustrated by Gabrielle Grimard is fantastic. Not only is it a top notch example of a multicultural book, but it inspires any number of hands-on STEAM activities. How can one picture book do so much?
Summary: Living in Morocco, Fatima’s family has an orchard of clementine oranges. Right before harvest, someone or something destroys some of the crop and breaks the trees. When they discover the orange thieves are elephants, what can Fatima and her grandfather do to stop them?
With help from her friends the spiders, Fatima comes up with an unusual and humane solution to her family’s problem. Mireille Messier‘s fable has wonderful underlying messages about the importance of collaboration, thinking outside the box, nonviolent solutions to problems, and how little things can make a huge difference.
What I love about the book:
- That it features clementine oranges, which are a familiar, popular snack for small children.
- That the author is bilingual and the book is available in French.
- Gabrielle Grimard‘s luscious illustrations capture the time and place beautifully. You can just smell the citrus on every page.
- The spiders
Like the orange, Fatima and the Clementine Thieves is a collections of sweet, complex-flavored messages wrapped up in a easy-to-handle package. Pick up a copy to savor with a young reader today. They will enjoy it.
Related STEAM Activities
It is easy to find great activities to accompany this book.
- Spiders play a major role in the story. Try some of the spider-science themed hands on activities at Growing with Science blog, like the climbing spider and making a spider web.
Clementine Orange Fractions
- Clementines (or mandarin) oranges
- Knife (for adult use)
Introduce the idea of fractions. Have an adult cut an orange in half most of the way through. Then cut another in fours. Finally cut one in eighths.
Have the children peel back the outer layer and look at the sections inside. Have them count the sections in their fruit. Write down the counts. Do all the fruit have the same numbers of sections? What fraction of the whole is a section in their fruit? For example, if there are eight sections in the fruit above, each section is 1/8 of the whole (roughly).
Of course, they will want to eat the results.
In the story, Fatima offers clementine peel flowers to the spiders.
Slice the oranges in the same way as the previous activity. Let the children peel the fruit. The peels can be used as “flowers” (see photograph below). Create scenes with different-shaped peels, other fresh plant materials, and/or your choice of art materials. Photograph the results. (See a creative example here).
For more advanced lessons, show how a three dimensional round object can be flattened into two dimensions.
Note: The peels will curl drastically as they dry, so will need to be pressed if they are to be preserved.
Want to read more children’s books about spiders? See our list organized by genre and age at Science Books for Kids.
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Red Deer Press; 1 edition (June 30, 2017)
Disclaimer: Just so you know, the publisher supplied this title for review purposes. Also, I am an affiliate with Amazon. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of the title links, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you, the proceeds of which will help pay for maintaining this website.