Children’s Book Review: “What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?” by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page (2003)

My school has the massive version of this book for reading in front of the class, and my students absolutely loved it. The book includes a great deal of student involvement via guesswork, fantastic artwork in the form of colorful paper torn into the shapes of animals—thirty in all—about which the students can learn important bits of information. The back-matter of the book contains further paragraphs filled with interesting facts about each of the thirty animals, as well as four poems.

The book invites children to guess which animal’s ears, tail, eyes, feet, or mouth is represented in close-up on a certain spread of pages before zooming out to show the full animal and to explain how it uses that particular body part. Some of the animals described are far more unique than necessary (the spitting fish, for example), but these few additions can help children expand their animal vocabulary beyond the standard, most recognizable names.

As a teacher, I can imagine a great number of projects for which this book could be a set-up, from crafting animals out of paper to leaning about specific animals, specific body parts, categorization, comparisons and contrasts, role-play, etc. This single book could be the basis for an entire month’s worth of kindergarten activities, if used properly, which is one way of saying “major props to Jenkins and Page!”

One thing the authors ought to change during their next publication is to remove the dragonfly poem in favor of another that has more to do with animal mouths, eyes, ears, or tails. This would help them maintain the theme of the book, which is otherwise impeccable.

©2017 E.T.

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