Reviewed by Polly Ann Norrie
6th grade teacher/science specialist
This book stands out from other trade books due to its unique format. It starts out with a few basic facts about eggs. Then the text proceeds with a quiz–like format with the answers at the back of the book. The author asks the reader to guess “which animal laid these eggs?” The reader is then given a short paragraph of facts, four large pictures of animals, and a hint to help the reader.
I have some reservations about the approach; scientifically speaking, with pictures and facts the reader is not actually guessing. According to Frank L. Misiti Jr. in his article, “Standardizing the Language of Inquiry” a guess is “using intuition to risk an arbitrary estimate or judgment about something.” What the reader is really being asked to do is infer. Again, citing Misiti, an inference is an “explanation based on observation.” As a classroom teacher, I would ask the students, "Based on what you observed what would you infer laid these eggs?"
The book already uses correct terms such as yolk, membrane, pupa, organ, gravel, and mammal. The book also includes a glossary and websites for further investigation. I read this aloud with a Kindergartner and he enjoyed the book. His inferences were right and he enjoyed getting most of the answers correct at the back of the book, although some did not give enough information for correct guesses. On other pages a hint on the opposite page narrowed the inference down to the most logical choice. We had a good discussion on how he was able to infer the correct animal that laid the eggs. He did use the context clues from both the paragraph and the hint.
Once the book is read, there might be a high chance that it will not be re–read by the same reader. Once all the questions have been answered correctly and the answers known, there is not much left to this book. The mystery and excitement is in the not knowing and uncovering the clues as the book is being read. The color photos are brilliant and large. There are some great scientific details: for example, using a centimeter ruler and a dime to show scale with a platypus egg, and describing the parents as 8 feet (2.4 meters) tall.
Review posted on 5/22/2012