Tuesday, May 17, 2016

May Mentor Text Check-In and Challenge: Comparing Texts

By Carrie Charley Brown

I’m writing more and more animal stories these days. You may have noticed that there are lots of animal characters on the market today, and rightly so! Kids love them. It’s always nice (and necessary) to know if what I am doing is fresh and has potential to stand out.  Keeping up with the most recent mentor texts really helps.  
Presenting... three animal picture books, hot off the press! (May 3, 2016)
Take the comparison challenge and ask yourself:
How are they different from one another? Tone? Structure? Style? What makes them unique? Are the characters something special? Will kids relate to them? 

Wolf Camp by Andrea Zuill
Prose, Journey-Style Structure (In which the main character changes and grows.)
Characters= Personified dogs & wolves, and people (only in beginning and end)
Theme= Higher aspirations/trying new things
Setting=Home/Outdoor Camp

Review: Homer feels invigorated when he gets a little Wolfish. After wondering what real wolves might live like, he discovers there's a camp for that! This camp experience is quite unique and filled with humor as Homer and his camp mates bring their inner wolves out into the wild. With comical illustrations and personified doggy personalities, children will be entertained and maybe even wonder what their own dogs are thinking about.

The Perfect Dog by Kevin O’Malley
Prose, Concept Book
Characters= Girl and dogs (realistic)
Theme= Varieties of dogs/Choosing a dog
Setting= Girl’s house/Shelter

Review: For any child that has ever experienced or dreamed of picking out a dog, this concept book celebrates a wide variety of dogs. From different breeds of dogs, which are featured on the end pages to attributes of dog sizes, hair, audibility, speed, and personality among others.  The main character, a young girl, walks us through her thoughts as she decides which type of dog will suit her best. This concept journey will be very relatable for child readers whether just imagining what it would be like to choose a dog or recounting a previous experience. It is filled with wonder and imagination.    

Beachy and Me by Bob Staake
Rhyme, A friendship journey
Characters= A girl and a whale (personified)
Theme= Friendship
Setting= Beach/Ocean

Review: This is a story of two unlikely friends in need. A bored little girl, Pixie Picklespeare, meets a giant washed-up whale. Pixie helps Beachy return to the ocean and he offers her a fun adventure. Each character gets what they wanted most in the end. Digital illustrations in primary and pastel tones. A rhyming text accents this story for younger readers.

The three selections above happen to be written and illustrated by one author/illustrator.  
Challenge: Find three additional animal releases that are written by separate authors and illustrators. Study the interplay between text and pictures in the three above and your own selections. How can you bring more balance to your own interplay? Write a review for each one you study. 

March 2016
April 2016

What recent animal picture books have your studied?


  1. I just read Blown Away by Rob Biddulph. The interplay between text and pictures is good and much of the story is told through the marriage of both story and illustrations. Thanks for sharing with us! On my way to find these titles right now. :)

  2. BIG CHICKEN by Keith Graves is my most recent study. His story is a humorous takeoff of the CHICKEN LITTLE story. I find inspiration in these mentor texts and hope to find a fun story to tell using animals as characters. Thank you for this positive share, Carrie :) I have some more books to check out!

  3. Love Wolf Camp! It's a fantastic new book! Another great new one is Hello Hippo, Goodbye Bird by Kristyn Crow and Poly Bernatine. Very funny!

  4. I consider your posts a lot to decide the books i want my kids to read since your suggestions are great! Keep it up. Thanks.