Skip to main content

Lifetime: The Amazing Numbers in Animals' Lives by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Lifetime, written by Lola M. Schaefer and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal has to be one of the best non-fiction picture books I have read in a while. Schaefer's text shows "how many times one particular animal performs one behavior or grows one feature in a lifetime." Everyone knows that little kids love animals and I think there just might be as many different takes on animal books are there are animal book lovers. And I have read a lot of them. So it's especially amazing to me that Schaefer manages to make her book feel fresh. Neal's illustrations are colorful without being cute, and the way that he represents the facts that Schaefer is sharing are original and easy to grasp.

This isn't a counting book per se. Schaefer begins with a spider and the one egg sac it will spin in a lifetime then moves on to the ten sets of antlers a caribou will grow and shed in a lifetime. 

Schaefer puts her facts in context where she can, adding text that is engaging and often humorous, sure to keep the littlest listeners attentive. A rattlesnake will add forty beads to its rattle, but Schaefer warns, "If you can hear this rattle you are TOO close!"

I can't say that I knew any of the facts before I started reading this book, but I can say that there were many that had me exclaiming and reading out loud to anyone who could hear me. I felt like I was at the zoo with my own personal guide sharing interesting tidbits. For older listeners (and readers) Schaefer includes four pages of facts about each animal featured as well as a page titled, "What Is an Average" that defines and explains in a way kids will understand. The final page is titled, "I LOVE MATH," and features three word problems, the first of which Schaefer answers herself while discussing the molting habits of the American lobster. The next two problems (which come with an answer key) are for readers to solve. Below, my favorite illustration to look at - and contemplate - in Lifetime!

Silas Christopher Neal is the author of another great non-fiction picture book, the award winning Over and Under the Snow, written by Kate Messner, which explores the animal world that exists beneath the snow each winter.


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…