Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Picture Book: Cows Can't Quack (by Dave Reisman)

Author David Reisman has brought us another entertaining work, ideal for young listeners.  Like his previous title, Cows Can’t Jump, he uses a patterned text in Cows Can’t Quack that invites children to predict and participate.   For instance, it begins with “Cows can’t quack…”   Turn the page and find, “but they can moo.”  This sample is followed in the next sequence, “Moose can’t moo…”    Now that a model has been experienced, children can be prompted to guess what sound a moose does make.  The book has a nice balance of animal/sounds that children will likely already be familiar (cat, frog, tiger) as well as ones they are not as likely (hyenas, rhinos, hippos).  

Because the text has a repetitive pattern with key words being repeated in each sequence, it is beneficial in building up sight word knowledge.  Older youngster will quickly memorize the pattern and use picture cues to help them “read” the words. By encouraging them to put their finger on the words as they read, they are learning to recognize them and getting the rhythm of reading.

The illustrations (by Jason A. Maas) are expressive and entertaining.    The background remains consistent with a soft blue sky and appealing green grass, allowing the focus to be on the animals.   Because they depict various emotions, child listeners can discuss what emotions they might be feeling and why they feel them using the pictures as a guide.

Expand the text for older children to teach them the “big word” for animal sounds—onomatopoeia.  This word is fun to say, and it has the added bonus of making them sound sophisticated. J    Encourage them to brainstorm other sound words or onomatopoeia.  Another early reading skill is recognizing the same sounds in words.   Identify together alliteration (same beginning sounds in words close to each other), like cows/can’t, moose/moo, and can’t/croak. 

For character building, talk about the uniqueness of each animal and parallel it to people.  Never try to be like the crowd:  An original is always worth more (quote I saw once).   We may do things differently, but we are all important and interconnected.  

I highly recommend Cows Can’t Quack for ages 2-7.  It is a story that should be read over and over for maximum enjoyment and benefit.  

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