This week I’m joining author Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Book Friday” effort while continuing to spotlight nonfiction each week. This week’s book is “Mama” by Jeanette Winter.
Title: “Mama: A True Story in which a Baby Hippo Loses His Mama During a Tsunami, But Finds a New Home, and a New Mama”
Author/Illustrator: Jeanette Winter
Publication Info: Harcourt, 2006
Genre: Nonfiction fiction (of course!)
Intended audience: Ages 4 and up
Themes/topics: Friendship, family, animals
Synopsis and opening line: “Mama.” That’s the first line of this book and almost the only word that appears throughout this true tale. Winter relies upon her colorful illustrations to retell this story of a baby hippo who gets swept out to sea and separated from its mama in a 2004 tsunami. Owen, as the hippo is later named, gets rescued by Kenyan wildlife officials and adopts 130-year-old male tortoise Mzee as his new mama.
Resources: The Web site OwenandMzee.com has a wealth of resources for parents and teachers including Scholastic’s teacher guide and three classroom activities. Visitors also will find rebus stories, a game and a sing-along.
Why I like this book: This is a versatile book. It’s a quick read, and preschoolers are drawn to the colorful illustrations and the tale of two different species forming a friendship. With words like “mama” and “baby” beginning readers can read the book on their own. For older children, Winter includes an author’s note in the back, which explains the true story of Owen and Mzee. And, more than anything, I am reminded to keep writing for children simple. Winter “tells” her tale in fewer than 30 words.
Every Friday bloggers review “Perfect Picture Books.” Find a complete list of book reviews organized by topic, genre and blogger at author Susanna Leonard Hill’s site.