Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Nonfiction Picture Book Wednesday - Can An Aardvark Bark? 6.21.17

Every Wednesday I join Alyson Beecher from kidlitfrenzy and other
kidlit bloggers to share wonderful nonfiction picture books.
The intention of today's blog post is to give professionals that work in the
education field new nonfiction reading material and ideas to use 
with students to promote a love of reading nonfiction materials.

If you are a frequent reader to my blog, and especially my Wednesday posts, you know what a big fan I am of author Melissa Stewart.  Her knowledge of nonfiction writing, how to break down nonfiction reading, her analysis of nonfiction material - it's amazing.  I learn something from every blog post she writes.  Her writing has made me a better teacher because I am aware of the type of nonfiction I read, the type of nonfiction I am passing on to students, how I teach reading nonfiction and writing nonfiction.  If you don't already, subscribe to her blog!  It really will change you as an educator, reader and writer.

I'm so excited to share her new nonfiction book:

Can an Aardvark Bark?
Can an Aardvark Bark?
written by Melissa Stewart
illustrated by Steve Jenkins
published by Beach Lane Books

One of the first thing that stands out to me is right on the cover.  You can see Steve Jenkins' iconic cut and torn paper collage illustration.  So this is a book that Melissa Stewart writes and Steve Jenkins' illustrates... you know it's going to be genius!

Something that Melissa has taught me a lot about is text structures.  Text structure can make the world of difference in a book.  As a writer, by choosing the best structure for your writing, it makes your writing point, what you are trying to get across to the reader, clear and understandable.  As a reader, by understanding text structure, you can make better sense of the information.  I love the way Melissa has selected a question/answer structure for this book.  Almost every other layout asks if an animal makes a particular sound (bark, roar, bellow, laugh).  Almost always the answer is no and Stewart goes on to tell us the correct sound that animal makes.  But instead of stopping at the one animal, on the second layout she gives us a round up of animals that make a similar noise.  She goes on to detail the reason the animal makes the noise - most of the time its for communication, although they also make noises for defensive reasons, to find other animals, and even to flirt (well, the proper term is to find their mate, but flirting sounds fun too!).

I really like the animal choices Stewart used in her roundup of animals.  Most of the animal choices were animals I did not know a lot about and were not the common choice.  For example, in the "barking" animals, dogs were not listed.  That is an animal choice kids would be most familiar with, but instead they learn that woodchucks and capybaras bark.  Who knew?

An interesting conversation can be had with young readers about the noises these animals make.  Focus in on the noise word on each page - they are in bigger font so they stick out more to our reading eyes!  What does it sound like?  Go to the last page where we see all of the words together.  How are they different?  Are they similar at all?  What do you notice about these sounds?  Great conversations can be had just by looking at these words!

I can't wait to share this book with readers this fall.  I'm guessing this is going to be a very popular nonfiction book in my circulation!

Happy nonfiction reading!


  1. I finally got a copy of this, too, Michele, and loved it. It will be a lot of fun reading it aloud to young readers, I think. And yes, this collaboration is awesome! Thanks for the great review!

  2. The text structure sounds reminiscent of an Eric Carle book (maybe the collage art is reminding me of Carle too), but how very much more satisfying to get this kind of information along with the questions!

  3. I love Melissa's books & Steve's art--what a dream team! Can't wait to read this one, Michele!!

  4. I've been promoting nonfiction hard at my Summer Reading Club visits this year - there are so many cool books like this one that kids will love!!