Sunday, May 20, 2012

Picture Books (Science): Pond Life

I love to visit a local pond which is tucked away in the middle of town.  I look forward to spring when there are animal babies. During a recent trip, I saw so many exciting creatures, such as ducklings, goslings, a water snake, turtles, tadpoles, and a blue jay.   Today, I highlight my five favorite juvenile books about pond life.  I hope you get a chance to visit a pond this spring.  Either way, these selections are sure to inspire young explorers.  

Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond (by Mary Quattlebaum):
Like its title suggests, this fun story cleverly uses the beloved “Old MacDonald” song as inspiration.  The narrative follows a young girl’s exploration of a pond on her family farm.  She carries with her a notebook where she draws the plants and creatures she finds. The soft, watercolor illustrations are contrasted with a white background, keeping it simple and focused on the pond itself.  There is a great use of onomatopoeia.  For instance, the reeds go “swish, swish,” the deer “flick, flick” (as it drinks), and the dragonflies “whir, whir.”  As the exploration ends, Jo runs to playfully share her drawings with “Old MacDonald.” The closing pages reveal her drawings as wells as facts about ponds, additional resources on them, and ways to be a young naturalist.  Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond is ideal for ages 3-8. 

Pond Walk (by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace):
On summer morning, Buddy and Mamma decide to go on a pond walk.  Buddy wants to see a turtle more than anything!  As he investigates, his mamma helps him identify insects and animals.  They discuss what they know about them and tell silly jokes.  Buddy draws a picture of each creature and plant he sees like whirling beetles, a frog, cattail plants, dragonflies, a lily pad, and a salamander. The duo share a picnic lunch at the pond before heading home.  They finally spot a turtle but in an unexpected way!  The illustrations are typical of Wallace’s style—simple shapes using paper collage, photographs, and colored pencils.  Instructions at the end demonstrate how you can make a rock turtle with your little ones.  Pond Walk is a fun book for ages 3-8. 
This narrative is hosted by none other than the Cat in the Hat who teaches his child companions all about pond life. Though it is written in free verse poetic form with simple vocabulary and sight words, it delves into things big and small at the pond.  He begins by introducing microscopic organism like spirulina and amoeba.  Readers get a look at what can be seen in a microscope.  Next, he shows the snails, worms, and leeches on the pond’s floor.  Thing 1 and Thing 2 stop by to help out with the difference between a complete and an incomplete metamorphosis. Much more is revealed about the fish, insects, and other animals that make up this habitat. The narrative ends with one of the Cat’s unusual antics.  I recommend Would You Rather Be a Pollywog for ages 5-9.  Early Reader,

Looking Closely Around the Pond (by Frank Serafini):
This selection begins with a spy-hole view of a small part of something in the pond surroundings. The text asks, “Look very closely. What do you see?”  Several suggestions are made as possibilities.  Children can pick one of them or make their own guesses.  Turning the page reveals the animal or plant in full.  Two short paragraphs are written about each one.  For animals, their habits, such as eating, nesting, and protecting themselves, is disclosed.   For plants, their role in the pond habitat is explained.   This same pattern is repeated for each one like the box turtle, shubunkin, mallard duck, dragonfly, water lily, cattail, and tiger salamander.  The final page reveals a sweeping view of the pond at dusk.  The photograph illustrations are vivid and striking.  Looking Closely Around the Pond is recommended for ages 5 and up.

Life in a Pond (by Adam Hibbert):
This brilliant book is oozing with stunning photographs of plant and animal life.   There are so many amazing close-up shots from everything from algae and microscopic volvox to killer grubs and water boatman.  The fascinating text delves into the lives of the northern water snake, the great blue heron, the fearsome mink, and the red-spotted newt.   Creepy crawlers also abound like snails, mosquitoes, grubs, and leeches.  A snapshot of some of the most interesting information is given on each one.  Life in a Pond is a visual delight that ages 7 and up will love! 


  1. What a wonderful list of Pond Books. Of course what caught my eye was the Dr Seuss one. I thought I knew all of Dr. Seuss books but this one I am unfamiliar with. How nice that you have shared this. Thanks!

  2. What a great roundup! We love onomatopoeia, they reflect my children's majority language very well. Thanks for introducing these!

  3. Thanks for contributing such a great list to this week's Nonfiction Monday event.

  4. I love the Cat in the Hat science books that have been coming out recently. They're a lot of fun.


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