For the families who wish they could winter in New England, or even those who do

This book makes me want to put on my hat, mittens, and gloves and walk in the snow, roll down a snowy hill, make a snowman, and then come inside for some hot chocolate.  I LOVE the illustrations and the tone/feeling that this book evokes.  I also love that its teaching my son about different kinds of animals and the different tracks they make.  It was a gift from great grandma, and we taped the card she sent inside the book–we will treasure this for a long time!

Title: Who’s Been Here? A Tale in Tracks
Author: Fran Hodgkins
Illustrator
: Karel Hayes
Genre
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 7

Summary and Review:

A dog goes outside and find lots of different kinds of tracks.  The three-toed print turns out to be a turkey, the prints with long feet and short hands coming out of the compost bin are, of course, the pesky raccoon, and double hooves mark a deer and a moose.  But who do the final tracks belong to?  Unfortunately, Willy the dog goes to find out, and ends up sprayed by the owner, a skunk.

Possible conversations to have with your kids (yes, it’s Science time!):

The drawings of the tracks appear on the borders of the pages so the kids can see them clearly.  Ask your child to guess what the animal is before you turn the page to find out.  After a few readings, they will be proud that they can guess every time!

For older children, you can point out more details in the tracks.  The book’s text mentions some of them without slowing down the narration, and you can expand.  For example, some of the tracks look like paw prints, but others look different.  Why?  What makes the paw prints of different animals similar?  What makes them slightly different?  And how is a paw print different from a hoof print of a deer or the clawed foot print of a turkey?

Ask them to look at the pattern of the prints as they lie in the snow.  Which one do they think is the right foot and which one the left?  Why?  Can they tell the difference between the two footsteps that are together in one stride and the next stride of two footprints?

What about animals that walk on four feet?  How are their tracks different from two-footed animals?  Have your child walk on all fours and see where their hands and feet end up.  Compare them to the drawings in the book.

On the raccoon prints, the hands and feet are different–can they tell which is which?  How do they know?

Why do the kids run away when they see the skunk?  Why do they leave Willy outside?

🙂

P.S. The danger of mixing gorgeous picture books with 2-year-old boys is that they will get ripped.  This is NOT a reason to take them away, but to help kids understand how to take care of books.  However, some damage will occur, and hopefully you can write it off as damage in the name of education and growth.  One way to minimize the damage, though, is to take off the fragile paper covers and store those separately.  I learned this trick from a brilliant fifth-grade teacher I worked with who did this before lending books in her library to parents and kids to take home.  (Thanks, Daria!)

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