Review (Plus): Tracks in the Wild
Bookshelf Blurb: Every two pages is a new animal with its paw print detailed in true size with information about the animal’s habitat, diet and social attitude. Great read for any age! Beautiful wood carved stamped images of the animals found throughout.
In 1994 the Minnesota Book Award was given to Betsy Bowen for her insightful and beautifully hand-crafted book, Tracks in the Wild. Every illustration in the book was created by using woodcut printing techniques. Each and every page was hand-whittled wood creating the perfect track of an animal along with a beautiful illustration of the animal and the environment in which it lives.
My eight-year-old son loved that his hand was smaller than the prints a moose leaves behind while munching on dripping weeds. The true-to-size animal footprints put the size of these animals in perspective while also educating readers about the habitat, diet and social nature of the beast.
I’m glad to see that University of Minnesota Press reprinted this timeless book filled with magnificent knowledge of our woodland neighbors. Although I don’t live where some of these animals would roam, I did enjoy learning facts about them while also finding out new things regarding animals I have seen in my own backyard.
In the classroom:
This is a well researched, informational text that is easy to read and understand. Each set of pages offers a different animal. You can read this book to your students in one sitting, or you could read two pages over the course of two weeks. At the end of the reading you could have your students write a summary of two or three pieces of information they gleaned from the reading (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.3.7). At the end of the book you could have your students select an animal and create a PowerPoint of their research (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.7) and then have them present their PowerPoints to small groups of students (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.4.) Make sure you give your students a quick checklist of information you want presented in their PowerPoint (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.3.1.C.) Students love the ability to “play” teacher. For most classrooms you will want to divide and conquer. Having 25 PowerPoints to show to the class would be time-consuming, so the group option allows you to achieve this task without taking up too much classroom time (CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.6).
I used CCSS Grade 3 for the above activity, but many of these concepts overlap up until 6th grade. This is a book to put on the classroom and library shelf.
Tracks in the Wild by Betsy Bowen (University of Minnesota Press | 9780816698837 | November 1, 2015)