Monday, March 9, 2009

Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock, illustrated by Carolyn Conahan

If you've been reading The Well-Read Child for a while, you may know that I'm always on the lookout for good nonfiction for kids. I'm constantly scouring book stores, libraries, and publisher catalogs to find examples of great nonfiction. Why? Because nonfiction can open doors to kids who may not like reading. Learning more about a topic that interests them could make them look for more reading material on that topic and can inspire them to read about even MORE topics they love. Good nonfiction may not be as scary as a fiction book full of prose and words and characters for kids who are having trouble reading. Good nonfiction promotes scanning and browsing. Kids can choose what they want to read, whether it's the entire book from cover to cover, captions on pictures, or one or two spreads that interest them.

Bubble Homes and Fish Farts is not just good nonfiction, it's excellent nonfiction. First off, the title alone begs you to take it off the shelf and open it up, and the subject matter draws you in right from the beginning. It's all about the ways different animals use bubbles. For example, snapping shrimp scare away predators with bubbles, Weddell seals chase fish out hiding with bubbles, and rattlebox moths defend themselves with bubbles.

What makes the book stand out and really work well is the approach Fiona Bayrock takes with the text. The descriptions of each animal are short but filled with fun facts, questions, and explanations that draw readers in. Take this excerpt from the rattlebox moth spread:

"Most moths have drab coloring and fly at night to avoid predators. Not rattlebox moths. They flash their orange stripes and black-and-white polka dots in broad daylight as if to say, 'Nyah, nyah, na-nyah, nyah' to predators. These moths stay alive though - because they they have a secret defense." (p. 30)

Don't you want to keep reading to know what that defense is? Illustrator Carolyn Conahan also adds humor to the content with short but funny thought bubbles that appear above each animal's head. More facts and a glossary in the back give kids even more information. Carolyn Conahan's whimsical illustrations perfectly complement the text, making this book a wonderful all around choice. I'd recommend it for any classroom, school, and home library and think it would make the perfect gift for kids who love to learn more about animals.

What Other Bloggers Are Saying:
The Miss Rumphius Effect:
"This is a well-researched, thoroughly engaging book for studying animals and the way they adapt to their environment." (read more...)

Jen Robinson's Book Page: "Fiona Bayrock has taken a unique premise, researched it to find lots of interesting, factual examples, and then added (with Carolyn Conahan's help) both humor and heart." (read more...)

More info:
Fiona Bayrock (website, blog)
Carolyn Conahan (website/blog)
Age Range: 6-9
Hardcover: 48 pages
Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing; New edition (February 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1570916691
ISBN-13: 978-1570916694
Source: Review copy from publisher

This week's Nonfiction Monday roundup is at Lori Calabrese Writes!


  1. It really is a great book that any young reader will enjoy!

    All the best,

  2. I saw this one at a Charlesbridge preview and absolutely loved it.

  3. I have been wondering if this book was good or not. Thanks for the review!