Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein Sylvan Dell Publishing (August 2010); ISBN 9781607180869; 32 pages;
Book Source: Paperback review copy from publisher
"I can make new coats for all of you, just like your old ones," she exclaims. "Form a line and tell me what you need."
A featherless duck? A bear without fur? In Fur and Feathers, a little girl named Sophia falls asleep during a storm while her mother reads a counting book about animals. The wind and animals enter her dreams, the animals get caught in a swirling storm and the wind blows their skin coverings right off. The duck loses all its feathers, the polar bear loses its fluffy white fur and the snake's scales fly away. Sophia must come to their rescue. At first she tries to dress them in her own clothing, but the animals agree that it isn't a practical solution (a diving suit looks pretty silly on a portly pig and the porcupine closely resembles Paddington from the classic books). Luckily for the animals, Sophia comes up with a better idea. She grabs her grandmother's sewing basket and, one by one, she proceeds to craft a new coat for each animal, adding her own special touches as she finishes each coat. The author leaves the end of the book to the reader's own imagination - was it truly a dream?
Sophia, the main character, uses all her creative energies coming up with appropriate coats for the animals. She sticks pins and needles on the porcupine, uses a little green slime for the frog, and covers a fish in sequins. Illustrator Laurie Allen Klein certainly must have enjoyed creating all the animal artwork in this fun book. One page spread shows 26 animals without coverings standing in line, starkly contrasting a colorful ladybug with brilliant and starry new wing covers. (There's a nice little puzzle on that page, by the way. Bet you can't figure out the names of all the animals pictured from from A to Z...we surely can't!) We laughed at the silly clothing on the animals, enjoyed the illustrator's hints about what animal would get a new coat next, and loved the proud and adorable expressions on the animals' faces as they regain their new, improved coverings.
Fur and Feathers releases today (August 10, 2010) and certainly sparks the imagination. My kids thought about all the household items they could use on different animals if they needed a new coat and we had fun discussing the differences between the animal coverings. In fact, like other Sylvan Dell books, this fictional story contains an impressive educational component. The "For Creative Minds” section in the back of the book covers basic scientific classification. Young children (preschoolers through early elementary) can learn how to categorize animals in classes by observing their different skin coverings (Mammals, Fish, Reptiles, Birds, Insects, Gastropods, Amphibians). Teachers, parents, and homeschoolers can find free online educational resources to accompany this book on the publisher's website.
Publisher's website: http://www.sylvandellpublishing.com/FurFeathers.php
Janet Halfmann - Author Website
Laurie Allen Klein - Illustrator Blog
Utah Education Network - Animal Coverings Lesson Plan
Readers might also enjoy: Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett
Fur and Feathers inspired us to create our own animal classification story stretcher and craft (for other educational activities view the extensive Teaching Activities guidebook):
Grouping Stuffed Animals - After reading the book, we gathered up all our stuffed animals and grouped them into their appropriate classes. The mammal group (71 total stuffed animals) by far surpassed all the other groups. Birds (7 total) came in a distant second. Even though we used the chart in the back of the book, one animal, the octopus, had us stumped as to what group it belonged. And, we ended up forming an entirely new category - Monsters!
Animal Covering Craft - My daughter decided to try her hand at providing a bunny with a coat of fur. She searched our home and decided that the dryer lint would work well for covering a rabbit. She drew a picture of a rabbit and glued the lint to cover her picture. Together we researched how to classify a rabbit and included this information on her craft page. (She modeled her drawing after her favorite stuffed animal, a stuffed rabbit that goes by the name of Summerfield.) This project would be so much fun to do with a classroom. The students could combine their projects to make a touch and feel animal classification book.
Sylvan Dell has kindly offered a giveaway. Enter to win a choice of a hardcover copy of Fur and Feathers personalized by Janet & Laurie (ship US only) or 3-month e-book license for all of Sylvan Dell Publishing’s 55 books (international)
To enter, leave any comment relevant to this post. (Or answer the following question: Name your favorite animal and let me know what materials you would use for its covering, if it asked you to make a new one.)
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• Contest is open to US Only for hardback book, International for 3-month e-book license
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Don't forget to visit the other blogs in the 8-day blog tour:
Aug. 5 Cafe of Dreams ; Aug. 6 Katie’s Nesting Spot ; Aug. 8 She Is too Fond of Books ; Aug. 9 Pudgy Penguins Perusals ; Aug. 10 Brimful Curiosities ; Aug. 11 Outnumbered 3-1 ; Aug. 12 Lori Calabrese ; Aug. 13 Write for a Reader
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