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Home - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

I love birds and the cover with this cheeky fellow appearing to peek at the reader inside it's nest immediately caught my attention. I have totally fallen in love with Isabelle Simler's feather-fine detailed illustrations and her witty and STEM packed poems about animal architects and the hoes they build.

Book cover - head of bird peering into it's nest.

Home

Author/Illustrator: Isabelle Simler

Translator: Vineet Lal

Publisher: Eerdman's Books For Young Readers

Ages: 5-9

Informational Fiction


Themes:

Animal's homes, biology, life cycles, and poetry


Synopsis:

A spectacular tour through the dwellings of twenty-seven different animals, from a hermit crab’s secondhand shell to a beaver’s lakeside dam to a comet moth’s silk cocoon.


Acclaimed creator Isabelle Simler presents a poetic journey through amazing animal homes across the world. In Europe, alpine marmots stay safe in underground refuges. In southeast Asia, Sumatran orangutans doze off in treetop bedrooms. In Mexico and the southwestern US, elf owls nest in holes in saguaro cacti. On every continent but Antarctica, honeybees mold wax into palaces for their queens. No matter where you travel, some creature is making an extraordinary place to call home.


With connections to life cycles, camouflage, and other biological concepts, Home is a spellbinding showcase of the wonders of the natural world. Enchanting poetry, fascinating back matter, and intricately detailed art invite young readers to be amazed by the creativity and diversity of our animal neighbors.


Opening Lines:

COZY HOME

of the Eurasian penduline tit

Remiz pendulinus


Here’s my little house,

hanging from the tip of a willow branch,

just like a fruit.

I enter headfirst,

the way you’d slip on a woolly hat.

And inside,

it’s so peaceful and quiet!

My walls are knitted together

from a mishmash of things.

Fresh plant fibers,

warm animal hair,

soft spider silk,

gathered swiftly and nimbly

in a flutter of wing


What I LOVED about this book:

I love the way the first poem compares this home to a knitted, "woolly hat." The opening image beautifully brings the reader right into the little tit's house, as the poem 'lays' encased in the fibers, hair, and "soft spider silk." Then we are treated to a look at the unique shape and minute details of this home and a peek at the avian architect. It really does look a bit like a lumpy wool hat.

Internal spread - on left, the poem lies inside the Eurasian penduline tit nest. On the right, is the bird peeking around the top of it's nest,

Text & Image © Isabelle Simler, 2024.


I really enjoyed Isabelle Simler's comparison of an octopuses' den to a "stony villa" - with its shell ceiling, sand couch, and curtain. I am absolutely in love with Isabelle's minutely detailed, vibrant, yet cozy colored pencil illustrations of each animal's home. Each illustration would make a gorgeous hanging print. And her wonderful first-person narration transports the reader along with each animal into their nest and offers a peek into their lives.

Internal spread - entrance of an octobus den, full of shells and rocks. Octopus tendrals stretching across the coral toward the outside,

Text & Image © Isabelle Simler, 2024.


STONY VILLA

of the common octopus

Octopus vulgaris


I’ve donned my ocean-floor dress,

and under a ceiling decorated with shells

I unwind on my couch of fine sand.

I live in a pretty chamber lined with stones,

where my soft body hugs the line of the rocks

and my arms spread out in a bed of deep blue.

My stony dwelling is well hidden

but from behind a curtain,

I’m keeping a close eye on things.


The book explores a silky apartment, tubular condo, wooden lodge, and papier-mâché hotel, in addition to twenty-one other homes. Isabelle's poems contain such wonderful analogies (larvae used as "weaving shuttles"), puns ("sewn by beak"), and images ("a doll's teacup of a nest"). Each poem is sprinkled with facts about the creation of the homes and special tidbits about a diverse group of animals (such as "decapod pals," "indigo eye," "aerie," and 500 birds in a colony nest) found all around the world. She's also included each animal's scientific name in each poem title. Wonderful backmatter offers additional insight into the animals, their habitats, and homes, as well as a terrific glossary, and additional resources. This is such a treat for animal lovers of all ages, teachers, and poets!


Resources:

  • have you wondered about an animal's home? Draw the home from the anima's point of view, as if you were exploring it. Try making a model of this animal's home.

  • what does the home remind you of? Try writing a poem from the animals point of view '

  • pair this with Look Inside Animal Homes by Emily Bone, Tree Hole Homes: Daytime Dens and Nighttime Nooks by Melissa Stewart, illustrated by Amy Hevron, and If Animals Built Your House by Bill Wise, illustrated by Rebecca Evans.


If you missed the fun interview with Isabelle Simler, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions and resources see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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