night animals by gianna marinoThe first book we read was Night Animals by Gianna Marino, one of my favorites.

Here’s a short review I did of it: PreS-Gr 2 – Possum is hiding in a tree from the scary noises that are night animals. One by one, more night animals join the mass hysteria as more and more bright, white eyeballs appear in the night. Each successive animal is larger than the next, but still afraid of night animals until Bat scolds them by telling them they are night animals. After this realization, camping humans are added to the mix and both parties go running for their lives. This simple yet hilarious story in gouache and ink full page spreads render a setting of a dark and scary forest expertly with a black background and only the bottoms of tall, barren trees or a frame of a wooded hollow where the animals hide. Readers can tell the exaggerated moods of the cartoonish yet realistically textured animals by the shape of their eyes, disembodied and expression-filled in the blackness. The store is told entirely in speech bubbles and onomatopoeias emanating from their feral origins, with the side story of possum and skunks relationship told entirely in pictures. Possum keeps passing out (in true dead possum style) from fear and skunk’s petrified stench, and skunk is dragging his wounded friend by the tail so he doesn’t get left behind. The story continues onto the endpapers.  VERDICT – A great read aloud for any age, kids will be rolling on the floor laughing while relating to fear of darkness and the unknown, and learning about nocturnal animals and some of their mannerisms.

I love this book!

I love this book!

My younger group was afraid of the book. So for the older group, I prefaced the book with lots of “this book is really funny. Tell me if you can figure out why this is funny.” We talked about what skunks and possums do when they’re scared. “Skunks fart!” They didn’t know what possums were so I showed them pictures in a nonfiction book before we read. Then I had the kids guess how each animal would behave. They also guessed which animal would come next. We brainstormed as many night animals as we could. We talked about in the beginning scene, possum was mad and you could tell it was him because the other set of eyeballs had a skunk stripe down the middle, and possum’s eyes were diagonal on top like he was making an angry face. The kids picked it up without me telling  and we talked about how that illustrator was so good to make us able to guess all those things with barely any clues. So this group actually laughed when the bat told them they were night animals. The first group was like, ahhhh bat scary!!! I read this book from end page to end page because there is a treat everywhere in this book.

We had a song break with I’m a Little Firefly (tune: “I’m a Little Teapot”)
I’m a little firefly, Look at me!
I’m as happy as I can be.
See my light flicker and shine so bright (they enjoyed wiggling their butts)
Now watch me fly into the night!

frankie works the night shiftNext, we read Frankie Works the Night Shift by Lisa Peters. The kids enjoyed arguing about whether a cat was a night animal or not. I didn’t know I was going to have a debate today! They tried to guy where Frankie worked. The closest guess was a “tool store.” Good time to introduce vocabulary: hardware store.  They liked that Frankie chased the mice out of the store, but this group took the pictures a little too literally and thought that Frankie should smash the mouse with the hammers looming overhead (hey, I blame it on the illustrator), yikes. I love how the pictures are photos mixed with painting.

Then we did the owl freeze game. Here’s how it works:

Owl Freeze Game (modified from the song ‘Silly Dance Contest’ by Jim Gill)

Fly any way you want to, fly any way you please

fly any way you want to, but stop when I say Sleep!

(I made a two-sided moon/sun visual and explained to the kids that we were going to be owls. That means that if the sun is out we have to be asleep! Then I’d flip it around to the moon for us to be owls flapping our wings. I used a freeze game format, shouting out Sleep! after they’d been flying for a bit and everyone lay down. Loads of fun!)

quiet night by marilyn singerLast was the flannel, Quiet Night by Marilyn Singer.

These books were recommended on various websites, but I didn’t like them. Usually because they either were too wordy or not really about night animals. Some we just didn’t have at the library.

Backup Books: