Friday, July 16, 2010

How To Clean a Hippopotamus

I bought How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships by Steven Jenkins and Robin Page this past spring, put it on my bookshelf to read, and then forgot about it. I'm so disappointed about that because this book is an amazing find. It would have been a perfect complement to the life science unit I taught in the spring dealing with ecosystems, food chains, food webs, and interdependence.

This book deals entirely with symbiosis - how animals form mutually beneficial relationships with each other. What Jenkins and Page have done is choose some of the more unusual partnerships and highlighted them. I anticipate that when I share this book, I will hear comments like, "Gross," "Awesome," "They did what," and "No way," just to name a few.

Some of the relationships this book deal with are:
  • cleaning by one animal of another (a plover cleaning a crocodile's teeth)
  • protection from predators (upside-down jellyfish on top of a crab)
  • hunting/finding food (the coyote and badger vs. the prairie dog)
  • providing or sharing homes (black tree ants and woodpeckers)
Each double-page layout has a theme, and this is divided up into smaller boxes, anywhere from 3 - 8 boxes per page. Jenkins and Page co-wrote the text which is so amazing, but Jenkins' illustrations are perfect at both complementing the text, as well as engaging the reader.

In addition, for those readers who still want more knowledge, in the back of the book, the authors share even more information about symbiosis. They also have each double-page layout reduced, and underneath tell the size, habitat, and diet of each animal mentioned on those 2 pages.

How to Clean a Hippopotamus is a great nonfiction mentor text, as it so adeptly pairs the visual information with the written information. This will be one of those books I share multiple times throughout the year. I love Steve Jenkins' work, and he and Robin Page have another winner on their hands!!

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