New “go to” author for 2nd-6th grade – Cheryl Bardoe

mammoths and mastodonsbehold the beautiful dung beetle

Cheryl Bardoe is a new “go to” author for me when considering informational texts for grades 2-6. I reviewed and made suggestions for teaching with Behold the Beautiful Dung Beetle awhile back – LOVE THAT BOOK. So I looked to see what else she’s written as far as non-narrative texts and found Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2011). Again – REALLY well written and accessible to our readers in grades 3-6. I’d put both in my classroom library after book talking and reading aloud a bit of each. They’d each make for interesting written/sketched/labeled responses as well. Below is my review of this book which received an Orbis Pictus Honor for Outstanding Nonfiction.

So well written. Easily accessible to fluent readers–savvy 3rd grade through 6th grade students. Bardoe’s writing is cohesive–the reader can follow where she’s going and how she’s developing main/central ideas. Also, this is not just a book about mammoths and mastodons – two of the main/central ideas are that scientists use fossil evidence as well as current observations of distant relatives to the mammoths and mastodons to create a picture of their behaviors and habits and this information could be vital in sustaining the livelihood of their distant cousin, the elephant. Also, there are many players in this endeavor – different kinds of scientists, different institutions and everyday people like the young boy who discovered a baby woolly mammoth in the ice/snow in the Arctic circle in the far northern region of the Russian Federation.

Bardoe is aware of her audience developmentally. For example, she starts the book with the anecdote about the young boy and his brother discovering a “mysterious creature” and going home to tell their dad. She titles one chapter “The Mammoth Name Game” and has a little quiz to start. She has another chapter “Piecing Together Mammoth Reality” that is a series of “episodes” where she asks the reader to imagine themselves with a film camera ready to create a documentary and then takes them back to a probable scene in the prehistoric life of a mammoth. None of this gets in the way of the hard content, though.

Photos, maps, and features are well chosen – supporting and extending the text.

I’m looking forward to seeing what she writes next!

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