How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (May 2010); ISBN 9780547245157; 32 pages; Book Source: Copy from local libraryHow to Clean a Hippopotamus provides factual and fun information about numerous different symbiotic relationships in the animal world. All sorts of odd partnerships are covered in this book. For instance, oxpeckers help out giraffes and other large animals by picking ticks off their skin and they issue a warning call when predators approach. Page after page, different pairings are described: the sea anemone and clownfish, badger and coyote, green sea turtle and a school of tang...even dog and human. The colorful and stylish panel layout looks a lot like a graphic novel or comic book and makes this book easy to browse and page through all at once or in little bits. The back pages include snippets of information about each animal featured in the book and provide a more detailed definition of symbiosis.
My daughter and I spent a good while one afternoon pondering over this picture book and exclaimed at the awesome collage illustrations by Steve Jenkins. Goodness, there are so many! It must have taken forever to produce all the art in this book. One of my daughter's favorite pages is the one where the plover (bird) picks stuck pieces of meat out of the crocodile's teeth. The crocodile apparently has a lot of respect for this brave little bird and never chomps down! One depiction gets slightly gruesome (a small illustration of ravens eating a carcass), but for the most part the book won't startle young readers. The witty little phrases introducing each animal partnership are sure to generate some chuckles and lend a light-hearted touch to the non-fiction book. I can just imagine a giraffe saying to an oxpecker, "Lower, and a little to the left."
Highly recommended for school age on up. Younger kids may enjoy naming the animals and looking at the pictures.
Animal Planet has produced a whole video series on Odd Animal Couples - See their take on The Giraffe's Oxpecker here: http://animal.discovery.com/videos/top-10-odd-animal-couples-the-giraffes-oxpecker.html
Jenkins uses cut and torn paper in his amazing, realistic illustrations so we decided to do something similar for our stART craft today, only large scale and not exactly realistic. To make the project more educational for my toddler, we incorporated a couple letters of the alphabet and made a Giant "G" Giraffe that stands 3-feet tall and an Oxpecker with a yellow "O" for an eye. I drew the giraffe on freezer paper and my daughter drew the Oxpecker. Everyone helped color the giraffe with markers and glue on the brown torn paper spots. It was a group effort and we're pretty proud of our Giraffe/Oxpecker art.
The Giraffe and Oxpecker really do "G-O" together!
We are submitting our giraffe art for inclusion in the One Million Giraffes project. I first learned about the online project after reading this post on that artist woman blog. To date, people from all over the world have added over 884,640 homemade giraffes to onemilliongiraffes.com!
A Mommy's Adventures hosts the "stART" meme (Story + Art) each week. Hope Is the Word hosts a Read Aloud Thursday link-up as well. Post your letter crafts on The Attached Mama's Alphabet Craft Collection blog.
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