Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wild Tracks! A Guide to Nature's Footprints by Jim Arnosky

Wild Tracks!: A Guide to Nature's Footprints by Jim Arnosky

Now THIS is a book that I would recommend to any parent of a child who loves nature and animals, reluctant readers, and science teachers.

Wild Tracks!: A Guide to Nature's Footprints is just what the title says it is, a guide to nature's footprints. Arnosky introduces the book saying, "When you learn to recognize and read animal tracks, you are learning an ancient language of shapes and patterns. The shapes of the footprints reveal the identity of the track maker. The pattern of the tracks tells a story about what the animal was doing."

The book sets out to show readers HOW to tell animals' stories through the tracks they leave behind. The short narratives in each section provide interesting information about animals found in the wild and their tracks, but the showpieces of the book are the pencil and acrylic illustrations of life-size animal prints, from moose and bears to beavers and geese. These are what will draw readers in, and with the simple captions by each set of tracks, readers don't even have to read the narratives that accompany each section to learn the animals' stories. What's more, there are four pull-out sections that show the life-size prints of deer, other hoofed animals, felines, and canines.

What does Aronsky mean about animals stories? Here's an example,

"When deer run, their sharp hoofs cut deeply into the ground and their small back toes, called dewclaws, can often be seen in their tracks...Reverse hoofprints indicate the deer made an abrupt turnabout to run away." (p. 9)

The foldout section of life-size prints includes illustrations of deer both walking and running to show readers how they can determine the difference. Pretty darn cool.

The style and approach used in this book really is the perfect way to engage readers and keep them coming back again and again. I highly recommend it.

Learning Opportunities:
  • If you live near a wooded area, take your child on an animal tracking adventure. See how many tracks you can find, and try to determine the animal's story. It may be helpful to some initial research on the types of animals that live in your region so that you will be able to better identify the tracks. For example, if you don't live in the Florida Keys, you won't find Florida Key Deer tracks, but if you live in the eastern woodland region, you may find White-Tailed Deer tracks.
  • Have children draw images of the prints they found. Put them on a bulletin board to show the variety of animals that live in your region.
  • For science units on habitats and species, this book could serve as a perfect jumping-off point for learning about the different wildlife you're planning on studying.

More Info:
  • Reading level: Ages 4-8
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (April 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402739850
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402739859
  • Source: Library

What Other Bloggers Are Saying:

I don't see any other blog reviews of this title, but I do see that the Allen County Public Library Mock Sibert blog has it listed as one of this year's contenders, and two readers have given it five star reviews on Amazon.

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