Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fur and Feathers by Janet Halfmann - Book Review and Giveaway

Blustery winds and lightning made the last few storms that passed through our area a little scary for my children. Sometimes, to help ease fears, we pull out books and read them snuggled close together during a storm. But, what would happen if those same storms made their way into a child's dreams? Janet Halfmann channels a child's creativity and spins an imaginative and informative tale about animal coats lost in a storm in her latest picture book, Fur and Feathers.

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.

Related Links:
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.)
• For contact purposes, if you are a non-blogger or your email is not accessible in your blog profile, please leave a valid email address within the comment section.
• Contest is open to US Only for hardback book, International for 3-month e-book license
• Contest ends on Monday, August 30th, 2010 at 11:59 PM CST.
• Winner will be chosen at random and sent an email notification.
Three ways to gain extra entries (Maximum total entries is 4; please leave a separate comment for each entry):
1st extra entry: Blog about this contest then post your link in the comment section.
2nd extra entry: Follow me on twitter (iambrimful) and tweet about the contest.
3rd extra entry: Follow Me! or subscribe by email or RSS reader

Don't forget to visit the other blogs in the 8-day blog tour:

I am an Amazon affiliate and may receive a very small commission for products purchased through my Amazon links. (View my full disclosure statement for more information about my reviews.)


Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

Brimful Curiosities, thanks so much for the fabulous review and for hosting the giveaway. I just love the dryer lint bunny and the stuffed animal story stretcher!

Butterfly wishes and wonderland dreams, thanks so much for stopping by and for your nice comment about Sylvan Dell books. Happy Reading!

Laurie Klein said...

Morning Brimful, Just wanted to stop by and say hello and thank you for hosting Fur & Feathers and for your lovely review.

I noticed your comment about the A to Z animals and thought i'd give you the full list of names:
Alpaca, Beaver, Cobra, Dugong (relative of the manatee), Echidna (spiny anteater from Australia & Tasmania), Flounder, Goose, Hyena, Indus River Dolphin (Chine), Jackal, Kiwi, Lemur, Manta Ray, Narwal, Owl, Platypus, Quokka (Australian marsupial), Rabbit, Salamander, Tapir, Uakari (S. American monkey), Vulture, Wombat, Xoloitzcuintli (Mexican Hairless dog), Yellowlegs, Zorilla (African skunk)!

Butterfly Wishes & Dreams, i second Janet - thank you so much for your kind thoughts.

gahome2mom said...

The Teacher's guide looks very helpful and would be great as a mini unit study for homeschool families. Thanks.


Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

gahome2mom, thanks so much for stopping by. I'm glad you like the Teaching Guide. Sylvan Dell does an amazing job of creating those for each of its books. The publishers homeschooled their children, too, so they know a lot about what educators and families need. Have fun with Fur and Feathers!

MaryAnne said...

I can't believe how much educational content is available to use alongside the book - fantastic! Love the concept behind the story, too =)

Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

MaryAnne, so glad you find the educational content so valuable. And thanks, too, for your nice comment about the story. It was a story that was lots of fun to write.

Anonymous said...

Please pick me to win this book for my children who are gaining a love of reading!!




Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

Anonymous, it is great to see you here. Enjoy reading with your children! It is such a great bonding experience!

Bridget R. Wilson said...

Sounds like such a great book...thanks for reviewing and coming up with great activities to go along with it. My favorite animal is a rabbit and I think cotton balls (pulled apart) would make a perfect new cover. Thanks for offering the giveaway.


Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

AStarrA and Bridget R. Wilson, thanks so much for stopping by. I love both ideas—a panda with fleece and a rabbit with pulled-apart cotton balls. I can foresee lots of fun activities with all kinds of materials creating new animal coats in the future—among kids and adults alike!

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

Outstanding review! I agree that the story and the illustrations really capture a child's imagination ... as evidenced by the dryer lint bunny :)

(No need to enter me in the giveaway, as we have a copy of FUR & FEATHERS to enjoy)

Elizabeth said...

this looks like such a cute pic, and the artwork is fantastic!


Elizabeth said...

followed you on twitter and tweeted


ossmcalc said...

My favorite animal is the Panda Bear. Since I have never touched a real one, I can only go on the stuffed version. I would probably use cotton balls that are torn apart.

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I follow you on Twitter and tweeted about this giveaway http://twitter.com/ossmcalc/status/20950642198

Thank you,


ossmcalc said...

I follow you and subscribe by email and RSS reader.

Thank you,


Mozi Esme said...

Looks like a sweet book my daughter would enjoy!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/08/fur-and-feathers_12.html

Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

Dawn, thanks so much for hosting me earlier on the tour. I just love the dryer-lint bunny, too!

Elizabeth, thanks for your wonderful comments and for tweeting, too!

Christine, I think cotton balls would work great for the panda bear! Thanks for visiting and tweeting.

Mozi Esme, Happy Reading with your daughter!

Maureen said...

Have two Grandsons...3 and 5 who live with me. They would adore this book!
Thank You!!


Linda Kish said...

This would make a great gift for my DIL's niece. I love to give her books.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Carole Spring said...

What an adorable, educational, and thought provoking story. I'm sure that my 2 grandchildren would love this book AND they would be much more creative than I at coming up with new animal coverings!

Here is my attempt:-) Cats are my favorite animals and to 're-dress' one I would use the slivers of paper that have been shredded by my cross cut shredder. Now the only real positive about my idea is that it would be a 'green' animal coat, as was the dryer lint, because we are recycling :-) (Just joking about the green aspect because everyone is trying to be so conscious of it today)

Thank you for the chance at winning a copy of this fantastic children's book!


Anonymous said...

I would love to add this book to my classroom library.


Happy Birthday Author said...

Wow! What an awesome Teacher's Activity Guide! It is very thorough and has a wide variety of activities. Pair those with the other two awesome projects and you have a whole unit of study. Love it!

Staci said...

This sounds like such a fun, creative book! My son's favorite animal is the porcupine and he says he could give it new quills with toothpicks!
mommastaci33 at yahoo dot com

rubynreba said...

For animals not very wooly we would use some old t shirts. Like an elephant could be gray knit or a horse could be a brown or black. For furry animals try using an old discarded wooly sweater!

mrsshukra said...

This is a fabulous book, educational, fun and creative!


Mary Elizabeth said...

I have not read this one, but it looks fantastic!! I also love the follow-up activities to stretch out the story!! Great giveaway!! mclaingreen@yahoo.com

Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

Wow! I returned from a week's vacation with family to find lots more visitors. Thanks so much to everyone for stopping by and for your wonderful comments. Your ideas for new animal coats are so fun: toothpicks for a porcupine, shredded paper for a cat, knit t-shirts and wooly sweaters—the ideas just keep coming. I'm so happy that so many of you are finding the Teaching Activities on Sylvan Dell Publishing's website so helpful. Happy Reading to All!

Theresa N. said...

We'd love the hardcover copy and makeing bear a coat out of feathers tickels our fancy. :)
Theresa N

degood said...

This looks like a fun book that would spark creativity in my kids and be a good story to read before doing some animal art projects.


Shelly said...

can only think of three birds in our large 'cuddly' collection!

artsy_momma said...

Looks like such a cute book!I would love to use it to teach my son that some animals have hair and some have feathers :)

Karen said...

My oldest son has red hair, and for a project on lions last week, he had me give him a haircut so he could use the clippings for fur!

Tif said...

I love Janet Halfmann's work and Sylvan Dell in general!!! I can't wait to see this one and share another great book with my kids!

tiftalksbooks at gmail dot com

Marci J said...

thank you for the chance! beautiful illustrations
june_spirit2628 at hotmail dot com

Karen Propes said...

This book shows in an ingenious way how to learn about animals, but also going to sleep and dreaming can be a world all it’s own. Especially for children that won’t go to sleep because they are afraid they will have bad dreams.

Karen Propes said...

I follow you on Twitter & tweeted: http://twitter.com/ncjeepster/status/22383814130

Jana said...

This book sounds adorable. I'd love to share it with my first graders. Thanks for the chance. janainmontana(at)yahoo(dot)com

Janet Halfmann http://www.janethalfmann.com said...

Wow, lots more comments. Thanks so much to everyone for stopping by and for your wonderful comments. I couldn't help chuckling about the young boy who will be using his red hair for lion fur! All of you readers are so creative!

Bakersdozen said...

I love how these book inspire creativity and I would love share these with my kids. vidomich(at)yahoo(dot)com