Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Picture Book (Science): Big Cat, Little Kitty (Scotti Cohn)
Travel around the globe to seven lively habitats to watch and learn about the big cats of the world! These ferocious predators have a lot in common with their domesticated relative—the house cat. Author Scotti Cohn sets up a day by day comparison of their habits, such as hunting, pouncing, running, and climbing. For instance, on Monday an alert tiger chases a gibbon up a tree while an observant little kitty runs a spider off her porch.
The same pattern is continued for the seven days of the week. On each page a native animal to the habitat asks the same questions:
“Who are you?” asks a warthog. “And whose savannah is this?”
The big cat purrs, “I am cheetah, and this is MY savannah.”
The following pages modify the pattern slightly:
“Who are you?” asks a mouse. “And whose house is this?”
The little kitty purrs, “I am Chessie, and this is MY house.”
This fun question and answer structure invites listener participation and memorization which lends itself to choral reading. The two worlds come together on the final page when a bobcat wanders into the habitat of a cat and dog who warn her to leave their backyard immediately. The bobcat bounds back to her own territory but not without a scream, to give them a little scare.
Cohn does a superb job paralleling the lives of wild and domesticated cats. She offers an ideal opportunity to discuss or to illustrate with a chart (for older children) how they are similar and how they differ. The author also naturally incorporates in the text days of the week and times of day, providing a springboard for learning for younger children. The repetitive, pattern text creates a quick familiarity with the action, prompting children to anticipate and participate in future rereading. Both are foundational literacy skills. Finally, the text includes some similes adults can identify and explain. Adult readers can create (and illustrate) similes with their class or children. Artist Susan Detwiler stunningly illustrates the various habitats—savannah, jungle, snowy mountains, desert, woods, and forests—in vivid color and detail. Similarly, each domesticated cat is imaginatively shown in a comparable environment or situation. Whether in the wild or in the home, this book depicts big and little kitties alike as magnificent, self-reliant, and poised creatures. Big Cat, Little Kitty is a rollicking pounce around the globe.
As with all of Sylvan Dell’s picture books, there are activity pages in the back of the book, an across the curriculum teacher’s guide, and other resources at their website.