14 July 2009

Dewey Have Animal Books?

I hate shelving books. I know that it should be an aspect of my job from which I derive a lot of satisfaction because if books need to be shelved that means they are being read, but, like laundry (which I also hate doing), it is never done. There are always books to be shelved. I know this is a good thing, but it makes me long for a house elf.

The section of books that I loath to shelve is of course the one that is circulated the most. The 590's. For those of you not as familiar with Dewey categories, the 590's are the animals. Everything from creepy-crawlies to the big and furry. My collection usually looks like it is lacking in this section because most of the books can be found on the never-empty "to be shelved" cart. And, yes, most of them are checked out by boys, though many girls frequent this section, too.

One of the authors/illustrators that can be found in the 590's is Steve Jenkins. He has illustrated numerous books about animals, many of which he has written himself. He uses collages to create his animals and, next to Eric Carle, he is my favorite collage artist. His pictures are full of texture and amazingly life-like. They make you want to touch the pages to find out what a gorilla hand or a butterfly feels like.

Jenkins' animal books are very accessible for young children. They are information books, but they are not over run with text or hard-to-digest facts. The youngest children can simply appreciate the pictures and learn the names of the animals, and older children can read the additional information provided. Typically, the books also have an informational page at the end that lists extended facts about the animals pictured.

I recently bought Isaac 3 of Jenkins' books at Kohl's. For those of you who do not have a Kohl's department store near you, each season they feature 3 or 4 books by an author and sell hardback copies for $5 each as part of the Kohl's Cares for Kids program. I have bought many books for Isaac through this program and I have mostly been impressed by the past offerings. I was quite excited to see Steve Jenkins' books in the display last week.

Isaac has enjoyed reading his new books and looking at the animals pictured in them. My favorite of the 3 is Actual Size. Jenkins created collages of animals and then featured them, or part of them, in life-like size on the pages. Isaac likes putting his hand on top of the gorilla's to compare the size. It's rather daunting, whether you are 3 or 35. The two page spread for the anteater's tongue is also rather impressive. The last page of the book shows a complete, smaller picture of each animal with additional facts.

If your son is an animal lover, check out Steve Jenkins at your local library, but good luck finding them on the shelves.

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