Busy As A Bee (and other animal idioms)

Have you ever noticed how many sayings we have that center around animals, but we apply to ourselves?  Someone may be barking up the wrong tree, or they could be the black sheep in their family.  We may eat like a horse or take the bull by the horns.

I think the abundance of these idioms shows just how strong of a connection we have with animals around us; they have historically been and still are such a presence in our lives that we have also ingrained them in our language and expression.  Kids have no problem pretending to be a lion in the jungle or a shark in the ocean.  Perhaps idioms are, on some level, the adult way of comparing ourselves to animals and confirming that we are indeed a part of the (wild?) animal kingdom.

Here are a few picture books that allow us to follow an animal as they go about their day. I hope you eager beavers find them more fun than a barrel full of monkeys.

Flight of the Honey Bee by Raymond Huber and Brian Lovelock (ill.). 9780763667603. Sept. 2013. Gr. K-3.

In this colorful book, you follow a scout bee as she goes about her busy day.  The narration here is in the form of charming, often poetic, language.  That is supplemented nicely on each page by more in-depth information about bees, including some very interesting facts about these amazing creatures.  For example, did you know that bees can smell “in stereo”, employing separate smell sensors on each antennae, allowing them to better pinpoint sources of food and other important scents?  Also, you will get a greater appreciation of that jar of honey sitting in your kitchen cabinet…a bee would have to visit two million flowers to make enough honey for that one jar!

Eat Like a Bear by April Pulley Sayre and Steve Jenkins (ill.). 9780805090390. Oct. 2013. Gr. K-2.

Here you get to tag along with a hungry bear as she finds food.  In this title, you get to travel through the seasons with the bear, so you get a sense of the variety of things she finds to eat.  You will learn that bears are truly the ultimate omnivore, as they hunt, scavenge, and forage for a wide variety of food.  I learned that bears have no problem eating fish and elk, but also dine on ants and moths.  Steve Jenkins’ artwork in this book is amazing as well; the bear was created by tearing and cutting a special kind of paper.  I was amazed at the amount of personality Jenkins could impart to the bear using this method.

See What a Seal Can Do by Chris Butterworth and Kate Nelms (ill.). 9780763665746. 2013. Gr. K-3.

Seals rank right up there with otters as my favorite animals.  They just seem to be so intelligent and playful, and always look like they are having a good time.  So, of course, I was interested to learn more about how a seal might spend their day.  In See What a Seal Can Do, the seal starts out on land, where he is less than graceful.  In the water is where he becomes agile and graceful, darting around for fish, diving to great depths, and avoiding killer whales.  The beautiful illustrations give great depth to the seal’s tale, and make this a very noteworthy title.

The Eye of the Whale: A Rescue Story by Jennifer O’Connell.  9780884483359. 2013. Gr. K-3.

In this true story, you unfortunately see an animal in distress.  Off the coast of San Francisco in 2005, a large humpback whale was tangled in the lines of crab traps, and could barely surface to breathe.  A team of divers was called in to assist, and literally risked their lives to free the whale.  The book notes that one swing of the whale’s powerful tail could have seriously injured or even killed a diver.  What I found especially interesting here was how they described the whale during and after his release.   Divers described how the whale seemed to knowingly stay still as they worked to free him, and gave divers a gentle, seemingly thankful, nudge when he was free.  They say that the whale seemed grateful and almost joyful as he swam away.  I was a bit skeptical at this anthropomorphizing of the whale, but the author notes at the end of the book that there have been recent studies on whales’ brains that may show that whales can sense and even express emotions more than what we have ever thought.  This is a triumphant read that celebrates our connection to the animals with which we share the planet.

Well, it seems that I have gone hog-wild in this post and provided you with four really good animal titles that will help you see things from a different perspective.  Now, I will quit horsing around and call off the dogs.

RyanBlogger: Ryan H.