Monday, January 31, 2011

Picture Book: Remembering Crystal by Sebastian Loth

Remembering CrystalSummary of Remembering Crystal (Sebastian Loth): 
Zelda, a youthful goose, feels fortunate to have a best friend like Crystal, an aged turtle.  The two friends love to swim, to read, and to take trips together.  They talk about everything—fears, dreams, life.   One day Zelda goes to the garden to find her friend, but Crystal is not there.  The other animals inform her that Crystal has passed away.   Zelda doesn’t believe it, so she goes looking for Crystal.   Her fruitless search leads her to begin reminiscencing on how much Crystal taught her about music and the world.  Zelda journeys back to the garden where she feels sad and lonely.  As she revisits memories of her friendship with Crystal, Zelda realizes something special:  Crystal will always be with her, no matter where she goes, right in her heart.

Evaluation:
I was really touched by Remembering Crystal.  The text and pictures are minimal, but it superbly captures the significant impact of friendship and the stages of grief.   I would highly recommend this book especially for a young child dealing with death and loss.  The book could be used as a springboard to discuss the child’s feelings and to illustrate how many people deal with the death of a loved one.   Remembering Crystal could help children realize that they are not alone in their experience or feelings. 

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Teaching Using Picture Books

This week the Books4Learning blog is listed on another children’s literature blog—Teaching with Picture Books.  The recent post highlights blogs that discuss quality picture books as well as ideas for how to teach them at home or in a classroom.  Check out the Teaching with Picture Books blog and the recent Great Minds Thinking Alike post. 

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ancient World History (Greece): The Life and Influence of Pythagoras

In our study of the ancient world, we have been focusing on the life and influence of Pythagoras, a Greek teacher and philosopher.   Pythagoras has been fascinating to study, especially since there are some noteworthy parallels to his life and that of Buddha’s, our last ancient world figure.   For instance, both had a privileged early life, but they devoted their adult lives to learning truth and knowledge.  They both believed in educating women and in reincarnation.  Pythagoras was more of an elitist though.  He believed in putting his students through a rigorous set of tests to prove themselves.  Only the best and brightest were allowed into his inner circle, though others could study at his school in a limited capacity. 

Mathematics was the thrust behind Pythagoras.  He believed the essence of all things is numbers.   Numbers, he hypothesized, are not just the key to the physical world but also to the spiritual world.  For instance, he thought that each of the first ten numbers (1-10) had a name and a purpose, such as #1 was the origin of everything, #2 represented creation, #4 signified justice, and #8 symbolized friendship.  He used numbers to define shapes and to develop music notes.  Pythagoras even saw a relationship between numbers and morality. 

There are not many juvenile resources on this highly influential man.  The three books I read are the most recent and accessible.  There is one other resource that is not readily available to me, but it may be to others:  Pythagoras: Pioneering Mathematician and Musical Theorist of Ancient Greece (ages 12 and up) by Dimitra Karamanides.

Pythagoras (Biography from Ancient Civilizations)The Life and Times of Pythagoras (ages 10 and up) by Susan Sales Harkins & William H. Harkins  
This biography is divided into five chapters:  Pythagoras’ early life, his schools, his general philosophy, his theories on numbers, and his final years.  The closing pages include a timeline of the major events in his life, a timeline of related historical events, and further resource citations on Pythagoras.   Personally, I found the material fascinating.  My children (10 and 13) thought it was a bit heavy for reading out loud.   I would recommend this book as background knowledge for a teacher or a parent.   I created a handout to help make the material more manageable.  This biographical book could also be used for older children (at least 11 and up) to read independently for a research project or for further knowledge. 

Even if you do not plan to study Pythagoras’ life in any detail, the next two resources are effective in showing how mathematics can be used to assist people with everyday problems.  Use them to accompany a math lesson or to inspire children to value the field of mathematics. 

What's Your Angle, Pythagoras? A Math AdventureWhat’s Your Angle, Pythagoras? (ages 8 and up) by Julie Ellis 
Pythagoras is a curious boy.  He loves to observe problems and to find mathematic solutions for them.  During a trip to Egypt with his father, he learns about right angles which inspires him to develop the idea of square roots.  He uses square roots to help his father figure out the distance between home and his trading destination as well as to adjust a ladder so it is tall enough to reach the roof.  Then, he uses a rope formed into a right angle to help some builders make perfect squares, allowing them to fix the crooked bases of the columns on a temple they are working on.  Pythagoras learns that difficult problems can be solved when looking at them from the “right” angle. 

Pythagoras and the Ratios: A Math AdventurePythagoras and the Ratios (ages 8 and up) by Julie Ellis  
Octavius, Pythagoras’ cousin, makes some new pipes to play in a local musical contest.  Unfortunately, they sound awful!  Pythagoras aids his cousin by comparing his sweet sounding pipes with the dreadful sounding ones.  Using ratios, Pythagoras cuts the pipes so they are the same ratio as his own but due to size one sounds deeper and the other is lighter.  He learns that the length of the pipes controls how high or how low the musical notes sound.   Amara, another cousin, is so impressed that she asks him to fix two lyres in the same way.   Using different weighted rocks, Pythagoras manages to adjust the lyres to have the same notes as the pipes.  By standardizing the notes, the group is able to play songs together in perfect tune at the musical contest.  This story, while fictional, is based on historical references to Pythagoras’ experimentation and discovery of the relationship between music and mathematic. 

For other ancient Greek posts, click here.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Picture Book: The Great Monster Hunt by Norbert Landa

The Great Monster HuntStory Summary for The Great Monster Hunt:  
A peculiar noise—"pshh pshh!"—from under the bed wakes Duck up!   She is too frightened to peer underneath to see what is making the sound, so she runs for help.  Pig is outside fishing.  Duck tells him she hears a “pshh pshh, grrr!” sound under her bed.  Pig dashes off to find someone strong to help them.  When he spots bear in the forest, he tells him about the “pshh pshh, grrr, bang bang!” sound under Duck’s bed.  Bear decides they need to find someone loud enough to chase the creature away.  They seek out Wolf who suggests they find someone clever—Owl—after hearing the ominous “pshh pshh, grrr, bang bang! wham wham.”    Owl hears the sound with a “grrrrowl” added on.  He is quick to declare,  “Duck is in great danger!”  The group confers and decides that it must be a monster under the bed.  They bring various items—rope, a small net, pokey things—to catch the alleged monster.   When they arrive, all is quiet at Duck’s house.   They fear they are too late!  The door creaks open.  It is Duck!  The animals reveal that she is danger because there is a monster under her bed!  She asks how they know.  Pig answers, “Because it goes pshh pshh, grrr, bang bang, wham wham, grrrrrowl!”   The animals charge into the room!  As they cautiously creep toward the bed, they hear a “pshh pshh” sound.   They pull up the dust ruffle...and gasp…it’s just a snoring mouse! 

Evaluation:
I sought out The Great Monster Hunt after enjoying Sorry! by the same author, Norbert Landa.   The charming pictures in both are from the illustrator, Tim Warnes.  The Great Monster Hunt is a suspenseful and humorous narrative, ideal for bedtime or classroom reading.   One of the fun aspects of this story is how a simple noise becomes exaggerated until it is nearly unrecognizable.  Each character adds an element to it until it sounds much worse than it is in reality—much like a game of telephone.   Ironically, it is the “wise” owl who is convinced that the sound comes from a monster which intensifies the situation even further.  Similarly, the “strong” bear brings kitchen utensils as weapons, demonstrating a more benevolent nature.  These ironies and character inconsistencies could be discussed as part of story’s characterization.  Elements of suspense can also be examined.  Ask students:  How does the author build up suspense?  Is it effective?  Finally, onomatopoeia should be pointed out and discussed briefly.  Children can brainstorm other examples or provide additional “scary” sounds. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Picture Book: Otto Runs for President by Rosemary Wells

Otto Runs For PresidentStory Summary of Otto Runs for President
Excitement fills the building as election time at Barkadelphia School is announced.  Tiffany, a popular poodle, and Charles, an all-star bulldog, are both certain they will be the next student body president.  Tiffany’s and Charles’ parents eagerly provide them with expensive signs and advertising. Their campaigns are run on their personal preferences.   Tiffany pledges to provide more mirrors in the girls’ room, barkaloungers instead of desks, and preferred seating in the cafeteria.   Charles promises skateboards in the halls, soda in the water fountains, and more meat for lunch.  They assume everyone will vote for them because they are popular and attractive.  Otto, a pensive and quiet student, decides to run for class president as well.  When he asks his classmates about their preferences, he finds out they want watermelon at lunch, a homework helpline, blankets for the kindergartens,  drums for the music time, and a class field trip.  As Charles beefs up his campaign promises, Tiffany and her friends begin to fight dirty.  They place sticky notes all over the lockers and school  making accusations that Charles is a cheater.  Charles is furious by this personal slander, so he retaliates by calling Tiffany a thief.  They are so busy fighting each other that they don’t notice Otto and his friends handing out cookies and showing concern for their classmates’ priorities.  When the election results are finally in, Otto wins.  He quickly works to follow through with his campaign promises to his classmates.   

Evaluation:
Accompanying the prose effectively are bright illustrations highlighting adorable animals in action, often in multiple events on a two-page spread.  While on the surface Otto Runs for President (by Rosemary Wells) is about elections, the values it illustrates are timeless.  First, the characters demonstrate how people in elections and in life rely on superficial qualities, such as popularity, beauty, or athletics.  While it wins Tiffany and Charles some friends, it alienates many people because they never show genuine concern for their classmates.  Second,  it exemplifies how a person can be successful with hard work and the proper priorities.  Otto keeps his campaign simple, focusing on listening to everyone in the school—even the kindergartens.  He makes campaign cookies with key words like “hotline” and “blankets” to let everyone know he is listening and he cares.  Also, this tale shows the importance of integrity.  Otto makes sure to fulfill his promises.  Shortly after the election, many of the items arrive—blankets, watermelon, and drums.  Even the field trip is planned.  Finally, this book is ideal to use during local, state, national, or even school elections.  Students receive a glimpse of the campaign process and learn an essential lesson on how to win with honor. 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Picture Book: Mattoo, Let's Play! by Irene Luxbacher

Mattoo, Let's Play!Story Summary for Mattoo, Let’s Play!:  
Gregarious Ruby has a boisterous personality.  She wants Mattoo, her cat, to join in her incredible adventures around the house.  Ruby does not understand why Mattoo is so shy.   She is doing everything she can think of to entertain and to entice him like playing music with pots and pans, doing tricks while jumping on her bed, making him a jelly sandwich as a snack, and taking him for a ride in her cardboard box spaceship.  When her friend Clemente comes over play living room safari, he convinces Ruby to wait, watch, and whisper, so they don’t frighten the animals away.  Together, they imagine spotting amazing jungle animals, but none as fierce, wild, and mysterious as the king of the jungle (Mattoo).  Tuna snacks and a gentle pat of his fuzzy mane tame the “wild” cat.   Ruby realizes that she has a playful cat who likes to have a good time.

Evaluation: 
Most of the illustrations are simple—primarily focusing on Ruby and Mattoo’s interaction on a white background.   Some more elaborate pages are interspersed to depict her vivid imagination.  The well-written prose is engaging, including some fun onomatopoeia. 

What I value most is the skillful way the author Irene Luxbacher allows the reader to feel the protagonist’s frustrations, joys, and eventual revelation.  Ruby wants so much to please her pet and to play with him.  When she changes her approach, thanks to her friend Clemente, she realizes that Mattoo does want to play with and interact with her.  Mattoo, Let’s Play! teaches a valuable lesson about friendship: Being a good friend means thinking about how the other person feels and what he is interested in.   Since children are often egocentric, this narrative opens up a dialogue about thinking of others and putting yourself in their shoes.  Lessons all children need to learn and practice. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Picture Book: The Pout-Pout Fish and the Big-Big Dark by Deborah Diesen

The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark In his second underwater adventure, Mr. Fish enthusiastically sets out to help Ms. Clam recover her missing pearl.   He dives through the water, searching the ocean floor closely inch by inch.  As he gets to a ledge, a hidden voice urges him to set out further to sea.   Mr. Fish swims a little deeper, but his heart goes “flit-flutter.”   Trying to muster up courage, he recites to himself this mantra:
I’m FAST as a sailfish.
I’m STRONG as a shark.
I’m SMART as a dolphin…
But I’m scared of the dark.

Deeper and deeper, he explores the ocean floor.  Each time he emerges on a new level, he is roused by a quiet whisper and his personal mantra.   As he finds himself face to face with his greatest fear—darkness, his bravery begins to wane.  The now familiar whisper (Miss Shimmer) asserts that he can do it!  She cheers him on with her own song:

Two are FASTER than a sailfish.
Two are STRONGER than a shark.
Two are SMARTER than a dolphin…
Two are BIGGER than the dark!

Together they swim deep into the darkness.   With a little light from Mr. Lantern, they locate Ms. Clam’s pearl and reward Mr. Lantern for helping them out.  The whole gang gathers around Ms. Clam to celebrate the finding of the pearl and the joy of friendship.   Together than affirm, “We are bigger. Yes. BIGGER. Always Big, Big, Bigger, than the dark!” 

Evaluation
The introduction in The Pout-Pout Fish post conveys my thoughts on the language, illustrations, and character.   There are several essential motifs that are worthy of exploring in The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark (by Deborah Dieson).   The most obvious is the fear of the dark that many children (and adults J) experience.   Use this book as a spring board to discuss that fear (or any fear) and how Mr. Fish overcomes it (as well as other strategies for overcoming fears).  Also, this book is about keeping promises.  The protagonist perseveres despite his worries until he fulfills his vow.  Finally, it is a lesson in friendship.  Mr. Fish helps Ms. Clam.  Miss Shimmer and Mr. Lantern assist Mr. Fish.  A whole gang of friends come to celebrate the recovered pearl. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Picture Book: The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

Author Deborah Diesen has created a delightful marine character—Mr. Fish.  His oceanic world is vibrant and captivating.  The books’ themes are relevant for children—being scared of the dark and dealing with negativity.   For teachers, these selections are ideal for an ocean or a poetry unit.   The skillful uses of alliteration, rhyme, word play, and repetition make The Pout-Pout Fish and The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark pleasurable read-out-loud books—perfect for choral reading!  The target audience is ages 3-7. 

 Story Summary:
Deep in the ocean a “glum gloomy” fish swims grumpily through the water with an “ever-present pout.”   He declares:

I’m a pout-pout fish
With a pout-pout face,
So I spread the dreary –wearies
All over the place.
Blub.  Bluuub.  Bluuuuuuub.

Various sea creatures—clam, jellyfish, squid, and octopus—try to convince him that his grouchy attitude is unattractive and unpleasant.  They implore him to be optimistic and amiable.    Mr. Fish agrees.  Nevertheless, he insists that it is not up to him.  He believes his pout-pout face destines him to be gloomy and bad-tempered.  Everything changes when a “bright and brilliant swimmer” approaches Mr. Fish.  Instead of trying to encourage him to change his attitude, she plants a kiss right on his pout-pout lips!  Mr. Fish has an epiphany…he is a “kiss-kiss fish with a kiss-kiss face.”   He realizes his destiny is to spread “cherry-cheeries” wherever he goes!   

Evaluation:
The Pout-Pout Fish can be used to discuss negative attitudes.   Many children go through a complaining stage.  Everyone encounters difficult people.  This narrative illustrates the effect that pessimistic outlooks have on others and how random acts of kindness can help turn things around.   The story illustrates another significant lesson.   A physical feature or personal characteristic can be viewed (or used) either positivity or negatively.  Children can learn to recognize what may appear to be a handicap or hindrance can be a blessing!  It is all about perspective. 

More Teaching Idea Links for The Pout-Pout Fish:
Across the Curriculum Ideas
Preschool Sea Life Lesson Plans
Fish Activities


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Picture Books: Dinosaur vs. the Potty (and Bedtime) by Bob Shea


Dinosaur vs. BedtimeAuthor Bob Shea has two memorable must-read books for preschool-aged children.   In both, the main character is a young dinosaur who aptly conveys the experience and personality of many young children (ages 2-6).  The lively illustrations use broad strokes, mixed media, and vivid colors—focusing on a plainly drawn but endearing and energetic dinosaur.   Parents (and preschool teachers) will find these selections helpful and entertaining. 

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime
Ordinary encounters are depicted with fervor and importance.  A dinosaur conquers many challenges throughout his day, such as a pile of leaves, a big slide, a bowl of spaghetti, and a tooth brushing.  In each contest, he “roars” his way to victory!  The red toothy dinosaur’s biggest challenge, though, is bedtime.  After a long day of excitement and amusement, the energetic protagonist cannot defeat bedtime—no matter how much he “roars.”  Ultimately, bedtime wins.  

This story fittingly portrays the experience of the toddler or preschooler who has many opportunities for new experiences and independence during his day.  In this case, the dinosaur confidently and successfully meets each challenge.  The character also illustrates the vivaciousness and activeness of most little children.  They desperately need their sleep, but they yearn to stretch out their days as long as possible.  The dinosaur conveys that it is all right to let sleep win!  


 
Dinosaur vs. the Potty 
Dinosaur vs. the Potty“Roar!  I don’t need to use the potty!”  asserts the determined, active dinosaur as the story opens.  Following a similar format as the first installment in this series, the dinosaur takes on various challenges---all related to fluids!   He makes lemonade, splashes in the sprinkler, drinks THREE juice boxes at lunch, plays in the pool, and splashes in rain puddles---yet each time he adamantly announces that he does NOT need to use the potty!   As he does his victory jig in the rain, he begins to realize that it may be another type of dance—a potty dance.  Dinosaur runs and roars all the way to the potty.  It is a close one—but fortunately, “The potty wins!” 

I love this book even more than his first one!  The story illustrates how children can get so wrapped up in the excitement of the day that they find it difficult to take time to potty.  Setting up potty training as a task to conquer, it may entice some youngsters may to follow in Dinosaur’s footsteps and to have a victory.  The amusing onomatopoeia and repetition make the story ideal for reading out loud and choral participation.  This beloved dinosaur protagonist is sure to charm your kids—and no doubt you! 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Preschool Book Series by Stuart J. Murphy

During a recent library trip, I saw two brand new books (ages 2-6) by Stuart J. Murphy:  Percy Plays It Safe and Good Job, Ajay!   The vibrant colors and adorable characters prompted me to check them out.  Both books are part of a new preschool series whose purpose is to aid children in developing life skills that are crucial for success at home, in school, and on the playground.   The books conclude with discussion questions and a visual aid that reinforces critical life skills. 
At the website devoted to this new series, you can view more information and videos describing the characters, the books, and the objectives.    There are currently two other books in the series:  Emma’s Friendwich and Freda Plans a Picnic

Good Job, Ajay! (Stuart J. Murphy's I See I Learn) (Stuart J. Murphy's I See I Learn Series)Good Job, Ajay!  (Emotional Skills:  Building Confidence)  
Ajay loves playing ball, but he has difficulty throwing it well.   Percy and Freda come over to help him practice.  To build up his confidence, they reminisce about other tasks he initially was apprehensive to try, such as talking to a teacher and swimming in a pool.  His friends remind him of the steps he took to overcome his fears to enjoy those activities.  With the help and encouragement of his friends, Ajay continues to practice throwing the ball until he masters the skill. At the end of the book, a simple Venn diagram illustrates how children build confidence.  In addition, there are discussions questions about Ajay’s feelings, interactions, and choices.   Finally, connections are made to the listeners’ personal experiences on trying new activities and building confidence. 

Percy Plays It Safe (Stuart J. Murphy's I See I Learn) (Stuart J. Murphy's I See I Learn Series)Percy Plays It Safe (Health and Safety Skills:  Playground Safety
Percy plays at the park nearly every day.  He loves to swing, to slide, and to run while imagining he is a monster.   Unfortunately, he does not always play safely on the equipment or carefully around others.  He inconsiderately bumps into others on the monkey bars and runs through children’s creations in the sandbox.  He also crawls up the slide and goes does head first!  Percy does not think about the consequences of his actions or the rules at the park.   When he gets hurt jumping off a swing, he is finally willing to stop and to reflect on his actions.  The next day Percy does all his favorite activities, but he learns how to do them safely and considerately.  At the end of the book, do and don’t pictures are side by side for children to talk about.  In the discussion questions about Percy’s experience, it is suggested that the listeners act out how to play in prudent ways and to discuss how to play safely. 


For information on Stuart J. Murphy’s educational Math Series, check out this previous blog entry.

Monday, January 17, 2011

I Feel Better With a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures by Carlyn Beccia

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest CuresBook Overview: 
What do earthworms, maggots, and spider webs have in common?  They were all used at one time to cure health ailments! 

The title page instructions of I Feel Better With a Frog in My Throat: History’s Strangest Cures  lightheartedly warns:  “Some cures in this book are gross.  Please don’t eat lunch while reading.”  Common western remedies from the ancient world to the modern one are highlighted.  This book is not for the squeamish!  It is well-researched and fascinating though. 

The book is organized into eight sections—cough, cold, sore throat, wounds, stomachache, fever, headache, and every sickness.  As a new section begins, the same question is asked:  “Did any of these cures help?”  Then, there are usually three options offered and labeled with an A, B, and C.   For each cure, a picture, the name, and the origin are provided.  Readers (or listeners) can guess which one or ones they think actually worked on patients.  Each of the next few pages is devoted to one of the cures with a vivid picture and a short fascinating paragraph explaining how it was administered, if it worked, and why it did or did not work.   
Evaluation:
I Feel Better With a Frog in My Throat:  History’s Strangest Cures (Carlyn Beccia) is a non-fiction title that is sure to give young and old the shivers and the heebee jeebees!   It is also highly engaging and fascinating.   My reluctant learner loved it!  If I tried to skip over anything to focus on the most important information, she requested I read it.  Both kids enjoyed predicting which cures actually worked and learning when they were correct.   Because the methods are often unpleasant and even a bit unsettling, I would recommend this selection for older children (ages 8 and up). 

Friday, January 14, 2011

Picture Book: Sorry by Norbert Landa

SorryStory Summary for Sorry:  
Rabbit and Bear live together, work together, and play together.  They have the “wonderful feeling of being a good friend and having a good friend.”   One afternoon, they spy from their tree house a strange, shiny object on the ground.  Both animals are fascinated by a metallic sheen because they each see their own reflections.  Admiring their ears (Rabbit his pretty, long ones and Bear his round, fluffy ones), they grab, pull, push, and tug until the shiny object is in two pieces.  After storming off, they try to find satisfaction in their pride and vanity.  Gloominess and loneliness creeps up on them as they lay in their beds.  They each go looking for the other.  Upon finding each other, Bear and Rabbit willingly offer their halves of the object.  When they huddled up and examine the shinny things together, they see a picture of both of them—side by side!  They happily declare “That’s just perfect!”  They realize the parts of the object (like them) are better together than separate. 

Evaluation:
The adorable animals made me pick up Sorry (Norbert Landa).  The story is well-written and timeless.  The motifs of friendship, selfishness, and reconciliation are timeless.  The illustrations on each of page have a charming appeal.  This picture book is an ideal platform for talking about sharing and forgiveness as well as what it means to be a good friend. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Picture Book: The Three Little Dassies by Jan Brett

The 3 Little DassiesStory Summary 
The Three Little Dassies follows the format of the beloved childhood favorite The Three Little Pigs.   The 3 Little Dassies takes place in Africa which gives it a distinctive, multicultural flare.   Like the three pigs narratives, the dassies (referred to as a rock mice in Africa) leave their family and travel a long distance.  When the dassies arrive at the foot of a mountain, a handsome Agama Man (similar to a lizard) greets them.  He informs them no one has lived there for a long, long time.  The only setback to the location is a family of eagles lives at the top of the mountain (predators to the dassie).  Despite the scorching desert heat, the dassies shiver at the thought of the eagles.  Nevertheless, they proceed to make their homes there.  Mimbi makes her house out of long grasses that she cuts, braids, and bundles together.  Pimbi builds her home of driftwood.  Both finish relatively quickly and take naps inside their new homes, out of the rays of the blazing sun. Timbi, though, continues to work to construct her house out of rocks she collects from around the mountainside. 
The next day, Mimbi and Pimbi are caught by an eagle that easily breaks into their homes of long grass and driftwood.  Greedily, the eagle goes back for the third dassie.  As the eagle waits outside her door, she taunts her, “I’ll flap and I’ll clap and I’ll blow your house in!”   Unable to successfully take the stone house down, the eagle returns to her nest to enjoy the other two dassies for her meal.  Fortunately, the friendly and watchful Agama Man sees the capture of Mimbi and Pimbi.  He climbs up the mountain and rescues them while the eagle is distracted attempting to get into the third dassie’s stone house.   Returning to an empty nest, the eagle swoops down and attempts to get the dassies through the chimney hole of the third dassies' abode.   The hot blast from the fire singes the eagle so indelibly that he never bothers the dassies again.  Today, dassies still live in rock homes near the mountains with agama men looking out for them.

Evaluation:
Lovers of Jan Brett’s intricate illustrations and delightful stories will not be disappointed with her latest book.  The creatures are adorable and endearing.  The African cultural elements make the story unique while the popular plotline creates a familiar story for young and old.  For teachers, The Three Little Dassies could be used as a part of a unit on Africa, animals, or fairy tales.  The story is ideal for comparison to other books with the same plot line.  For students already familiar with The Three Little Pigs, they have an opportunity to predict what will happen as the Dassies tale is read.