Monday, May 16, 2016

Daylight Starlight Wild Life (by Wendell Minor)

Author:  Wendell Minor

Illustrator:  Wendell Minor

Target Ages: 3-7

First Lines:  “The sun shines on Earth, bringing the light and warmth of day.  Do you know these daylight visitors?  Then Earth spins away from the sun, bringing darkness and cool of night.  Do you know these starlight visitors?”

Publisher Summary:  “In amazing lifelike, luminous paintings, Wendell Minor, one of America’s finest wildlife and landscape painters, reveals the variety of wildlife that surrounds us when we are sleeping and when we are awake.  He invites readers to experience the movements, sounds, colors, and texture of diurnal and nocturnal creatures.”

Evaluation and Learning Activities:
The first 2-page spread previews all the animals that will be covered in this day/night comparison.  Children get a visual of the two types of animals—diurnal and nocturnal—grouped together.  Parents and educators can begin by teaching or reviewing the animals.  Then, see how many the children can identify as you read together.

The scope of the pictures varies. Two-page spreads with a single animal like the red tailed hawk and wide-eyed owl give readers a feeling of the wide expanse as well as the majesty of the creatures and nature.  Then, there are also landscape split screens with different animals, such as woodchucks in the day (top) and skunks at night (bottom), which prompt a sense of movement and connectedness.  Many of the others give a side-by-side comparison of similar animals, such as white-tailed deer—red fox, chipmunk—deer mouse, and tiger swallowtail butterfly—Luna moth.  The illustrations in all their forms are fantastic!  Worth the trip to the bookstore or library to see!

The text is straightforward, just one descriptive line per animal.  Adult readers can point out the key ideas in the words and pictures.  For instance, the cottontail rabbit and opossum are on facing pages.  Both have a trio of young.  Discuss the difference in how the two species travel and interact with their environments.  The opossum “plods” through the field and forages with her babies on her back.  However, the rabbit is more cautious as her babies follow her lead.  Similarly, the grey squirrel and flying squirrel are contrasted.  Discuss similarities and difference in how they look and act.

For older children, introduce animal classification—mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, and insects.  The author includes some additional “Fun Facts” on each animal.  Copy the pages.  Cut the pictures out. May also want to paste on to small notecards or halved index cards for durability. Work together to classify between nocturnal and diurnal categories or based on the aforementioned animal classifications.

After reading, parents can accompany children on a walk during the day and at dusk/night in a place where animals are likely to be spotted. See how many of the creatures from the book you can find together as well as others not mentioned.  Classroom teachers are not likely to be able to take kids on an evening walk, but they can encourage children to do one with their families. Students can share their experiences during circle or other group time.  Make a chart with the name and/or picture of each animal.  As a child shares an experience seeing one, add a check mark.  Af the close of the unit, complete math problems with the data.  

Daylight Starlight Wild Life is an outstanding introduction to animal habits and classification.  Readers of all age will love the amazing illustrations and enjoy the insightful journey the book takes you on. 

Other Book Connections:

I also recommend Divya Srinivasan’s Little Owl’s Day. A noisy squirrel wakes up Little Owl.  Fascinated by the sun and the creatures moving around during the day, he explores the woods in a new light.  Traveling around he meets butterflies flittering, dragonflies skimming, wolf pups playing, and many other daytime animals.  As the day comes to a close, he observes the diurnal animals settling down and the nocturnal ones waking up.  The adorable cartoon animals and dynamic illustrations are ideal for the 2-5 age group. 

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