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Find Out About… Animals Homes

Authored by Martin Jenkins
Illustrated by Jane McGuinness
Published by Walker Books

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Find Out About… Animal Homes is a gentle peek into the lives of different animals, giving young readers a glimpse into where creatures, ranging from termites to prairie dogs and polar bears to orangutans, choose to lay their heads.

Martin Lewis, a conservation biologist by trade and author of the award-winning Emperor’s Egg, has written two threads running through the book. The first is a series of juxtaposed comparisons between the animals’ homes (big and small, long-lasting and temporary, neat and messy etc). The second is a series of facts, each uncovering some interesting aspect of that particular creature’s abode. The text is accompanied by happy, cartoonish illustrations from Jane McGuinness. The pair have produced another book Find Out About… Animal Babies, which follows the same structure.

If one of the key purposes of non-fiction is to spark curiosity and the desire for further knowledge, Animal Homes could be an effective offering if delivered in the correct way. Examples of the snippets of information that make up the book include ‘Young caddisflies, called larvae, live underwater. Some of them build homes out of tiny stones glued together with sticky stuff called silk that they make themselves. Each larva carries its home around with it.’ Nuggets such as this can be a springboard for further exploration: What other animals make their own homes? If these are the larvae, how do adult caddisflies live? If only some larvae do this, what do the others do? Is the silk similar to that of spiders?

It could be a great companion in the classroom to Who is in the Egg? by Alexandra Milton, which follows a similar structure but focuses on how animals are born, rather than where they live. I can absolute imagine science lessons, in KS1 or 2, being based around these books, either generating and researching the answers to questions prompted by the facts, or even choosing another aspect of animal life and creating a new text all about that.