Boston Public Library-March 2016
I love this book, especially since the skink is a lizard that families in my programs might actually see in the park or in their neighborhoods. The story is still whimsical enough to work at storytime, while teaching a valuable lesson about adaptations and predator/prey relationships.
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Taking Time for Mommy-June 2010
While Little Skink hunts yummy ants for breakfast, she suddenly is attacked by a crow! But the little lizard has a trick to escape–she snaps off her bright blue tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Readers will enjoy pretending with her as she tries on the tails of other forest animals. One is too puffy-fluffy; another too stinky! Then one day Little Skink gets a big surprise . . . and she doesn't have to dream of tails anymore! The book encourages children to be comfortable with themselves as they are and also includes lots of science.
A "For Creative Minds" section at the back of the book features a mix-and-match tail activity, footprint map, and information on tail adaptations.
My Thoughts - It's no surprise that this book won The Mom's Choice Awards Honoring Excellence. It is beautifully written and has amazing illustrations. This book quickly became my daughters' favorite. My favorite part was that it's educational. It got them thinking, asking questions, and they really enjoyed the creative mind exercises at the back of the book. There is even a website to go and print up worksheets to go along it.
I found this book is great for preschools or play groups too.It really holds the little one's attention.
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Penelope Anne Cole-December 2011
The story of Little Skink is a visual and audio delight. The descriptive words Janet Halfmann chooses give the reader fun words to roll off their tongue like puffy-fluffy, wiggly waggly, flick and fluff, and stickily-prickily. I imagine the children listening to this story will have as much fun with the words and images as the reader does.
The artwork by Laurie Allen Kein is essential to the story’s enjoyment. Little Skink’s Tail is exquisitely illustrated. The animals come alive, displayed in their natural beauty and appeal. This is a story with heart, personality, and fun on every page. It is available in English and Spanish with audio. The audio book is as much a treat for the ears as the book is for the eyes
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Opening Eyes, Opening Hearts-December 2011
Little Skink's Tale also presents information about the natural world in creative ways. In this book a skink who looses his tail imagines what it would be like to have the tails of various other creatures until his own grows back. And this book, too, contains educational material at the end that could be used by teachers or parents to help kids learn more about nature. It has the same illustrator, but the style is quite different and shows the beauty of nature.
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Family Literacy and You-March 2011
I loved this story. You'll enjoy watching Little Skink "trying on" different types of tail's from animals that she sees. The pictures are bright and vibrant and perfect for a study of habitats. Also just before you turn the page see if you can figure out which animal's tail she is going to try on next! (This is great for encouraging kids to think about what they're reading and what come's next in the story) Also, per Janet Halfmann's website there is another animal in the book that changes while Little Skink changes too!
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Kwil Publishing - September 2017
What makes Little Skink’s Tail “read it again” worthy? Of course because it’s about a skink! A skink that has her tail bitten off by a crow! It is educational, but through a compelling storyline rather than a list of facts. Through characters and conflict readers learn about forest animals and physical adaptation. There is silliness, as Skink, now tailless, tries to imagine what it would be like to have not her own tail, but a bunny’s or a deer’s, or even a skunk’s! The diction—spot on, the pacing, impeccable. The two interactive games at the end—oh so fun. My kids, like so many others (my nieces and nephews included), have done exactly what the author, Janet Halfmann, encouraged them to do in the beautiful inscription I was lucky enough to have her write in our copy. “Have fun pretending with Little Skink,” she wrote.
Maw Books Blog-Mar 2010
My boys and I laid in bed the other morning and read Little Skink’s Tail by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein. Seriously, nothing is better than lounging in bed before getting up while reading picture books aloud. Even better that the book was within arms reach of the bed thus not even having to get up to retrieve our morning reading material!
While eating ants for breakfast (yuk! said my boys), Little Skink is attacked by a crow. But she has a trick up her sleeve and that is to snap off her bright blue tail which keeps wiggling as she makes her escape. While Little Skink is very happy to be alive she desperately misses her blue tail. As she meets various animals in the forest that day she imagines what shewould look like if she had their tail. But they are all too fluffy,too bushy, too stubby, too stinky, too prickly or too pointy. Will she find the perfect tail or will she be in for an even bigger surprise?
My four-year-old LOVES footprints and he really enjoyed a map activity found at the end of book where he matched the footprints to the different animals Little Skink encountered in the forest. There is also a matching game to identify the tails with the animals as well. As soon as we finished both activities, he turned to the beginning of the book and narrated the entire thing back to me. Of course, it was his own narration but he was pretty darn close!
Little Skink’s Tail is a welcome addition to our library and comes with our recommendation as it’s not often that my little guy will spend a good twenty minutes looking at a book on his own.
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Katie's Nesting Spot Blog- Jan. 13, 2010
When Janet contacted me to review her Little Skink's Tail, I was eager to see it because I'm always looking for quality nonfiction picture books. While the main character has been given an inquisitive personality, the narrative is factual and very descriptive.
The teacher in me appreciated how Halfmann described the various types of tails and why they wouldn't work for Little Skink. She provides good examples of interesting ways to do so, using what I used to refer to with my students as "active word choices" that are needed so their writing isn't boring. For example, talking about how the deer's tail is, "So short and stubby." How the word choices help conjour up a visual and then also talking about what stubby means.
I also loved learning about a little known animal, don't think I'd even heard of a skink before this book! My daughter was intrigued by the idea of her tail coming off. She especially liked that it was blue. The storyline is cute, engages children's imaginations, and the watercolor illustrations are lovely and detailed. It would be fun to make a class book afterward, with the kids imagining what body part they might like to switch into an animals.
The "For Creative Minds" section is well done and provides more educational extension activities, including natural sciences. Over all, I highly reccommend you add this title to your home library. Go to review online
Cudahy NOW - Jan. 11, 2010
South Milwaukee children's author Janet Halfmann is blazing the kudos trail. She recently posted on Twitter that her book, Little Skink's Tail, was chosen the Best Children's Book of 2009 by Tif Talks Books: http://www.tiftalksbooks.com/2010/01/best-of-2009.html. And the most recent issue of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Bulletin says her non-fiction picture book, Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story, has been selected for the Missouri State Teachers Association Reading Circle Program, and her fiction picture book, Little Skink's Tail, was placed on the Florida Recommended Reading List. Kudos, Janet! South Milwaukee is proud of you and happy for you.Go to review online
Energizer Bunny's Mommy Reports - Jan. 7, 2010
Little Skink's Tail is a lovely book by Janet Halfmann, in which she introduces the reader to the Little Skink (which, by the way, is a lizard resembling reptile.) who comes face to face with a black flying predator. To escape becoming Mr Crow's meal, he distracts the crow by shedding his long slimy tail and scurries for cover. The plan worked and the Little Skink is left alone.....but....minus his beautiful tail.
Without his tail, the Little Skink rests sadly in his habitat till a brainwave hits him....."What if he got another tail" This leads to a journey into the world of imaginations he dreams of himself with different tails.
Read this book to find out what happens in the end....will he get a new tail, accept being a Skink without a tail or does something special happen?
Bunny girl and I enjoyed going through this book together. It was fun going through the 'tail parade' in Little Skink's imaginary world and it was a little time of education for both of us as neither of us (I admit it!) knew what a skink was....but now I do, thanks to Google!
I think this book also teaches an important lesson to a child that we're all made in a unique way and no alterations can make us look any better than God actually designed us to be!
I would recommend this book as a gift for any preschool aged child....its simple but beautifully written to convey and educate the young reader.
(Note: This book has won the '09 Learning Magazine Teacher's Awards, '09 FPA President's Award for the Best Children's Book and 3 '09 Mom's Choice Gold Awards in 3 categories.)
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The Book Faery Reviews - Nov. 27, 2009
Arbordale Publishing recently contacted me to review Janet Halfmann’s E-book “Little Skink’s Tail”. When I was first approached I was a bit leary of an e-book for my 3.5 year old to enjoy; however, when I tried it out with her I found it was the perfect solution on days I was not in the mood to read a children’s book. This next generation e-book featured an auto-flip and auto read (both in English and Spanish) to rest my voice while we enjoyed a cute story about a lizard and her tail. The only thing I wished it did as it read the story (which was in great animated voice quality by the way) is underlining or highlighting the words as it is read. Still, I recommend this ebook format to any parents and teachers with internet access.
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Youthful Tips Book Blog - Nov. 30, 2009
This is truly a delightful book after having a chance to read it to my girls. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the story is fun yet educational. Little Skink takes his little audience on a journey among many different animals to find a new tail. The way Ms. Halfmann presents Little Skink's path is interesting, playful and fun. I like how Ms. Halfmann utilizes the story to teach children about animals and the various tails each one has. Seeing how Little Skink and his tail are involved in this tale of pursuit is sure to captivate any child. Laurie Allen Klein's illustrations really piece the whole story together. I think it will also increase imagination as the children might try to imagine themselves with a different tail just as Little Skink does.
Halfmann has been writing children's books for more than 20 years. Little Skink's Tail is her 28th book. This book was dedicated to her granddaughter which makes it even more speical. Ms. Halfmann used to be a manager, editor and writer of coloring and activity books for Golden Books so she has plenty of experience on what children like.
The back of Little Skink's Tail has three pages dedicated "for creative minds." Once you purchase the book, the pages can also be photocopied or downloaded for use.
- Footprint Activity Map
- Adaptations: Why do animals have tails?
- Tail Matching Activity
Each page provided a laugh by my two year old and the six year tried to read the words she knew. I would recommend this book to any child! My girls loved it!
If you want more information on this book or any other book offered by Arbordale Publishing, click HERE. One newer option that I was not aware of are eBooks. This is great for kids who do love to be on the computer as it allows them to read their favorite book right on the computer! Click HERE for more information. Since I had the hard book and access to the eBook for Little Skink's Tail, I was able to compare. There were no differences in the quality or ability to read and another benefit of having an eBook is it takes up less space!
Little Skink's Tail received many awards/recognition:
- 2009 Learning Magazine Teachers' Choice Award
- 2009 FPA President's Award Best Children's Book
- 2009 Mom's Choice Awards GOLD: Best Three Children's Books of 2009, Children's Picture Book-Animal Kingdom, Educators' Choice
- 2009 Florida Recommended Summer Reading List
Arbordale Publishing has many other features outside of books and gifts, they also offer resources for teachers and librarians, parents and homeschoolers and children.
I particularly loved the area for children. There were fun learning games, activities for creative minds, teaching activities, audio books and much more!
Interested in any author signings and events, Arbordale Publishing has them listed HERE.
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Just Another Review Blog - Nov. 4, 2009
What a sweet little book! This 2009 Teachers' Choice Award book is the tale of a tail that is lost to the little Skink when she tries to avoid a crow's sharp beak. Sadly, the crow gets a taste but at least little Skink survives since she can regenerate tails! This book has lovely pictures and a sweet plot as we watch her "try on" other tails until her own grows back. Thankfully, she realizes the beauty of her own tail and is lucky that hers DOES grow back!
One of the best features of this book, and the others in the series, is at its end. Different questions and activities which help you and your child to review what you've read will help to reinforce reading comprehension. I urge you to check out Arbordale Publishing's web site. See if the tale of Little Skink's Tail appeals to your child, or if another story would suit a young one you love!
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Ms. Bookish Blog - June 13, 2009
This is a little gem of a book that accomplishes two things: it tells a wonderful story, and it helps parents explore the world of animals and their tails with their children. The first time I read this book to my son, I was surprised because for some reason, I had expected the book to be non-fiction; instead, it is the delightful story of Little Skink who has to snap off her beautiful bright blue tail in order to escape from danger. The book follows her as she uses her imagination to try on the tails of other animals; the story ends with a happily-ever-after, as Little Skink turns around one day and sees her tail has grown back.
This is a picture book that my son often asks me to re-read, and it has also served as a great way to start an educational (but fun) discussion about why different animals have different tails – what are the different functions of different kinds of tails? Why would switching to a different kind of tail be not only impractical but possibly dangerous? What types of animals are lucky enough to be able to grow back a tail they’ve lost? Little Skink’s Tail is a great picture book that manages to educational, too. It’s no wonder it has won several awards.
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Reading at the Beach - Nov 15, 2009
This was an adorable children's book. I loved how Little Shink used her imagination to "see" what she would look like with different animal tails. The illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein are beautiful. I think this book would be a great book for all young children as it teaches them to use their imagination. The "For Creative Minds" section at the back of the book is a wonderful addition that I think children will love.This book won the 2009 Teachers Choice Award and Mom's Choice Awards.
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The Children's Book Review - May 2009
Mom's Choice Award, Teacher's Choice Award, and the President's Book Award, are three notable achievements to have plastered on the cover of a book. Little Skink's Tail did not dissapoint. It's an endearing tale of animal physiology that is perfect for science and nature lovers -- Arbordale Publishing pride themselves on the fact that all of their books and activities are aligned to National Science and Math Standards, North American Association for Environmental Education standards, and all state standards. Concepts such as animal survival techniques are aproached in a wonderful child-friendly way, kids are fascinated not only by the text but also by the delightfuly clever illustrations. For kids who are left wanting more, there are a couple of fun and educational activities at the end of the book that are perfect for further exploring and allow for additional discussion. Extra teaching and comprehension resources can be found on the publisher's website: www.arbordalepublishing.com, as well as English and Spanish readings -- all for free!
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Dane County Parent, WI - August 2009
Winner of the 2009 Teachers’ Choice Award, a Gold Mom’s Choice Award and President’s Book Award, Little Skink’s Tail by Wisconsin author Janet Halfmann is a delightful tale of a missing tail. When Little Skink is searching for yummy ants to eat, a crow swoops down and grabs her by the tail. But Little Skink has a trick, her tail breaks off and wiggles away with the crow in hot pursuit. Little Skink is able to hide, but soon misses her colorful tail. She imagines herself with the tails of other animals, but none are quite right. One is too puffy-fluffy, one is too stickly-prickly and one is stinky, stinky, stinky! One day, she notices a tail in her shadow and realizes her tail has grown back. Her tail-dreaming days are over. Children will have fun pretending along with Little Skink. The bright, bold and beautiful illustrations capture an active forest full of animals in their natural habitats. A three-page “For Creative Minds” at the end of the book keeps the educational level high, with a footprint map activity and a tail-matching activity answering the question, “Why do animals have tails?” Recommended for ages 4-8.
Midwest Book Review - April 2009
Little Skink eludes danger from a hungry crow and makes a narrow escape with the snap of her tail in this entertaining picture book. Happy to be alive, this little lizard is sad without her blue tail until she decides to find a new one. Readers will love walking through the woods with Little Skink as she hunts for a new tail. In Little Skink's Tail, children will eagerly want to imagine trying on different animal tails with Little Skink as they help her find the perfect tail-replacement! Author, Janet Halfmann's lively text, and Illustrator, Laurie Allen Klein's rich and realistic pictures bring this story to life. Imaginative and educational, children and adults will enjoy the "Creative Minds" section where they can learn about animal footprints and why animals have tails. Readers of all ages will enjoy Little Skink's Tail and the lessons of why animals need their tails and how much they rely on them to survive.
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Mom's Reviews - Nov 12, 2009
This book has terrific illustrations and teaches a wonderful lesson about the importance of being happy with who you are. At 32 pages, it’s recommended for ages 4-8 and is published by Arbordale publishing. Little Skink’s Tail was chosen as one of the three Best Children’s Books of 2009 by the Mom’s Choice Awards, as well as receiving Gold awards in the Educators’ Choice and Animal Kingdom categories. The book also won the 2009 Teacher’s Choice Award from Learning Magazine and was named Best Picture Book and Best Overall Book for 2008 by the Florida Publishers Association.
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Hearts of the Matter Online - March 2009
Little Skink’s Tail by Janet Halfmann (Arbordale Publishing; 2007) is a delightful story about a skink who finds herself being attacked by a hungry crow one day. Lucky for her she has a special trick that she can use to protect herself from would be predators. In a blink of an eye she snaps off her tail and scurries away leaving the crow to chase her wiggly wobbly tail! Although glad to have eluded danger, the next morning Little Skink is sad because she misses her bright blue tail. Without a tail of her own she begins to imagine what life would be like if she had the tail of some other forest creatures. In the end she realizes that while the other tails are beautiful on the other animals, her tail is really the best for her, which is of course a wonderful lesson on accepting how God created you.
In my opinion Little Skink’s Tail is a homeschool mother’s dream picture book. The story on its own is of course entertaining and carries a good message, but there is so much more to this picture book. The illustrations are well done and each page not only helps to illustrate the story but also shares in detail what can be found in Little Skink’s natural habitats such as the shelf mushrooms growing on the decaying log and other animals found with Little Skink in the forest.
Like all Arbordale Publishing books there is a lesson plan in the back of the book—-a homeschool mother’s dream, you don’t have to worry about making up your own! In Little Skink’s Tail there is a footprint map where children learn to identify the footprints of a Deer, Turtle, Squirrel, Owl, Rabbit, and Porcupine as well as offering practice on reading a map. There is also a tail matching activity where children are asked to identify an animal based on a illustration of its tail.
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Cafe of Dreams blog - March 2009
Little Skink's Tail is an absolute delight! I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed this book - ok, I should say my daughter and I. My daughter is 6 and said that she would give it a definite 5/5 rating! My 2 year old son also really seemed to enjoy it and listened to the entire story on my lap, happily turning the pages along with me. I have to say, that to find a book that I, myself, as well as my 6 and 2 year old can enjoy together is a delightful and wonderful treat (not to mention a feat worth celebrating, lol)
Little Skinks Tail is a story of - you guessed it - Little Skink! One morning, while gobbling up some ants for breakfast, she finds herself the target of a very hungry crow. Thinking quickly, Little Skink snaps off her pretty blue tail and escapes to safety.
She is happy that she is alive got away from the crow, however, soon misses her tail. As she comes across the other animals of the forest, she imagines herself with each of their tales upon her body. This brings about silly and delightful pictures of Little Skink wearing a deer's tail, a skunk's tail, a turtles tail and more. My children and I had so much fun checking out the pictures of Little Skink and talking about the silly tail she wore.
In the end, Little Skink decided that though all were wonderful tails, none were not right for her. Then one day, while playing on a sunny rock - she makes a wonderful discovery!
Now, unlike many children's stories, once the story comes to an end, that is the end of the book. However, with Little Skink's Tail, there are delightful, fun and educational activities at the end. There is a matching page, where you match a picture of an animal's tail with a description of the animal, a Footprint Map, which enables the child to do a cross graph - "the deer prints are located at what coordinates?" As well as related questions. My daughter loved doing this!
I have to say, this is one of my favorite children's book. It is one that will be loved by children, as well as their parents/adults. Mixing a wonderfully written story, unforgettable pictures and fun education is a can't miss combination! I highly recommend this book to everyone - and think it would make an excellent addition to any library and classroom!
*overall rating 5/5
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She is Too Fond of Books blog - Feb 2009
This award-winning book entertained and educated my 4-, 6-, and 10-year old children. The younger ones delighted in Halfmann’s choice of sound words (sniff sniff!, gobble gobble!, wiggle waggle!) and the predictable repetition of Little Skink thoughts as she “imagined herself wearing the tail of every animal she met.”
My older son enjoyed comparing Little Skink to his own pet anole (”Dextra”), and researched further to learn more about skinks. My youngest added a few vocabulary words (basked, scampered and slinked), and my 6-year-old beginning reader has read it through several times after our initial read-aloud together time.
Janet Halfmann’s engaging text teaches about skinks in a setting that is probably familiar to young readers, involving cottontail rabbits, squirrels and skunks in the narrative. Laurie Allen Klein accompanies the text with beautifully rendered watercolor illustrations.
The back pages of the book contain a “For Creative Minds” section with a footprint map (for animal identification and compass orientation) and a tail-matching activity. Little Skink’s Tail is the recipient of several awards in 2009, including the Learning Magazine Teacher’s Choice Award, FPA President’s Award Best Children’s Book, and Mom’s Choice Award.
On the company’s website, Arbordale explains that they are “a young company on a serious mission to create picture books that excite children’s imaginations, are artistically spectacular, and have educational value.” On the basis of Little Skink’s Tail, I would say they are succeeding in their mission. This book is perfect for preschool through elementary-level children, and may be especially appropriate for homeschoolers.
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The Well-Read Child blog -- March 2009
Little Skink is enjoying a delicious meal of ants when a hungry crow wants to make a meal of Little Skink. Trapped with nowhere to run, Little Skink uses her special trick: her tail falls off when the crow grabs it, and Little Skink gets away. Now with no tail, Little Skink imagines what she'd look like with the tails of different forest animals, but none are quite right. The rabbit's tail is too "puffy-fluffy," and the porcupine's tail is too "stickly-prickly." Then one day she sees her shadow, and the shadow has a tail--the kind of tail that only a skink should have.
Little Skink's Tail has a simple, yet informative and fun storyline. Kids will enjoy watching Little Skink try on different tails and will laugh at Laurie Allen Klein's vibrant watercolor illustrations. This is just the type of book that would make an excellent supplemental text for a classroom lesson on forest animals and regeneration. The back matter includes Arbordale's signature "For Creative Minds" section, which in this case, comprises a footprint map and a tail matching activity that can be copied and printed. Highly recommended!
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At Home Science blog - February 2009
Little Skink is a lizard with a brilliant blue tale that falls off to protect her. She then imagines herself with the tail of other forest creatures until she is surprised by finding her own tail has regrown.
The book is geared towards younger children and is a lovely nature story, not just a telling of facts. The illustrations of the five-line skink with various tales are beautiful and amusing. The book even has mapping and matching activities in the back. According to the book flap, this is Janet Halfmann's 28th book so I am very interested in her other writings.
The book is published by Arbordale Publishing, a company dedicated exclusively to math and science literature. Their offerings are mostly on Nature, but with several other topics as well. Still, their nature books alone are well worth adding to your "must read" list for living science. The editor and co-owner homeschooled her children, and they even ran a contest for homeschool student last year. What a perfect Living Science publishing house!
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The Friendly Book Nook - February 2009
This is such a cute book! The story itself is adorable, the illustrations are great, and included are a couple of extra activities for your child to do which encourage both science and math. My second graders loved this book! They were engaged throughout the reading. It is an Accelerated Reading book at reading level 2.6 (which means second grade sixth month). I would recommend this book for children pre-school through grade 2 or 3. Little Skink’s Tail would be a great addition to a young child’s library!
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Reading to Know - February 2009
Janet Halfmann has written more than 28 books and recently we've had the opportunity to read through some of her books on animals for children. (Although the majority of her books are about animals, she has not limited herself to the animal kingdom. However, for the sake of our current two year old interest, we have focused solely on these works.)
At our stage of life, animals make the most intriguing subject matters in books so I was happy to have some new titles to browse through. First we started off with Halfmann's latest work, Little Skink's Tail (published by Arbordale). Halfmann wrote this particular picture book after doing some research for an article she was writing on skinks for Ranger Rick magazine. In this story Little Skink loses her tale when escaping from a rather eager and hungry crow. Little Skink is sad by the loss of her tail and throughout the remainder of the book she is imagining what she would look like with the tails of other animals, such as a deer, a rabbit, an owl, etc. Halfmann explains that when she wrote this story she was thinking about her granddaughter who likes to play dress-up and imagined her wanting to try on different outfits. Coupled with excellent illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein, this is a very cute book and my son enjoyed identifying and pointing out the different animals. In the back orf this book you'll find various animal tracks which you can identify with your children set up with a "matching game" sort of feel to it. Very cute and fun addition to this book. We like it. Little Skink's Tail is apparently also gaining in notoriety. It has received the following attention: Mom's Choice Awards: Best Children's Book of 2009 (1 of 3), plus Gold Recipient: Educators' Choice & Animal Kingdom; 2009 Teachers' Choice Award: Learning Magazine; 2008 Best Overall Book and Best Picture Book: Florida Publishers Association. Not too shabby, I'd say.
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Katie's Literature Lounge blog - February 2009
Most recently named 2009 Learning Magazine's Teachers' Choice Award Winner, Little Skink's Tail focuses on skink's (a lizard) ability to adapt to its surroundings and protect itself in times of danger. For those who didn't know, lizards break their tails when faced by an enemy as mean of protection. This book could easily be used in part of a science curriculum that focuses on ways in which animals survive and adapt in their environment(s). A learning guide to supplement Little Skink's Tail can be found here.
Little Skink has been spied by a crow. She has to escape and does so just as the crow snaps down to pluck her away. However, Little Skink has a trick - her tail can snapped off to protect her from danger. However, once her tail is gone, Little Skink realizes just how much she misses it and goes around imagining a new tail for herself. She tries on tail after tail - a rabbit's tail, a squirrel's tail... and many more. However, just as she decides that none of the other tails are right for her, she catches sight of a her shadow on a sunny rock. Lo and behold, her new tail has started growing and it's just right!
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I don't usually review picture books, but I won an autographed copy of Little Skink's Tail from Shelly of Write for a Reader this last month, and my daughters just love it! My seven-year-old has read it on her own at least 20 times now. And as a parent, I found myself enjoying the story as well. It's one that won't drive you nuts after reading it for the umpteenth time. Little Skink gets his tail swiped by an owl, and imagines what he would look like with the tails of his fellow creatures. In some instances, this is pretty humorous as well as educational.
My daughter's comments:
"I like how the skink looks--he has a blue tail and a brown body. My favorite part is the picture of him with the squirrel tail and the squirrel looking at him funny."
The book has beautiful illustrations and a couple of activity pages in the back. Highly recommended for younger readers!
Thank you Janet Halfmann and Shelly B. for the giveaway!
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Book Scoops blog - February 2009
I got this book in the mail last week and my daughter was very excited to help me open the package. I mean really who doesn’t like to open up something in the mail and it was a book! We sat down immediately to read it and then the baby woke up and of course she needed to be fed, which meant I couldn’t read the book right away with her. So I left my five year old on the couch with the book and told her to go ahead and look at the pictures. She looked at the book for 15 minutes, which means two things a) she really likes the book and b) this is a book worth reading.
At the end of the book there is a map of various animal footprints from the story with coordinates to locate them. She loves that kind of stuff (this is the child who insisted on color coordinating her potty-training chart.) She loves to organize things, make patterns and was figuring out how it worked by the time I was able to read it with her. I have to say after reading this book I definitely want to check out Arbordale’s other books that teach math and science with fiction.
From the front flap
"While Little Skink hunts yummy ants for her breakfast, she is suddenly attacked by a crow! But she has a trick to escape - she snaps off her tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Little Skink is happy to be alive, but she misses her bright blue tail. Readers will enjoy pretending with her, trying on tail after tail."
This is a really cute book and we liked it. The illustrations done by Laurie Klein are excellent. Interestingly as I was reading the pictures reminded me of a forest scene my dad had painted once in watercolor and then come to find out the pictures are in water color. I really liked them. The text also has some rhyming in it, which is always a plus with little ones.
I could see this book being used in elementary classrooms as a way to study various animals and habitats and why animals have tails - particularly lizards. My daughter was very intrigued that an animal could lose a tail and then grow it back. It also has some fun activities that involve math at the end of the book, which as you know my daughter loved. I appreciated that the book had also been vetted for accuracy in the way the animals were portrayed. The publisher also has some great online resources in English and Spanish to go with the book including the Footprint Map that captured my daughter’s attention, which you can check out here. Definitely a good read and a nice addition to a home or school classroom.
Reading Rumpus, Ready Set Read Reviews, Once Upon a Time, Books Ahoy!, Pudy Penguin Perusals. Lori Calabrese Writes (author interview), Mayra’s Secret Bookcase, In the Pages, A Wrung Sponge, Laura Williams Musings
‘09 Learning Magazine Teachers Choice Awards, ‘09 FPA President’s Best Children’s Book Award and ‘09 Mom’s Choice Award
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Tif Talks Books - February 2009
While Little Skink hunts yummy ants for her breakfast, she is suddenly attacked by a crow! But she has a trick to escape - she snaps off her tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Little Skink is happy to be alive, but she misses her bright blue tail. Readers will enjoy pretending with her, trying on tail after tail. The first is too puffy-fluffy, and another too stinky! Then one day Little Skink gets a big surprise . . . and she doesn't have to dream of tails anymore.
Halfmann's "tail" is a must-read for you and your family! My son has requested that we read about Little Skink over and over again! He loves the story and the games at the end of the book, particularly the tail matching game. As for me, there are so many things that I love that I don't even know where to begin! I guess I will just have to begin listing them as I think of them . . .
- The Artwork: Illustrator Laurie Allen Klein is brilliant in her depictions of the stories! As Little Skink tries on her tails, they really do look as if they should fit! And, all the animals were just plain adorable! I've included a sample picture that also happens to be one of my favorites as an example!!
- What's Next?: My son actually caught on to this feature before I did!! Within the story, the pictures predict what tail Little Skink will try next.
- Nature Theme: Arbordale Publishing prides itself on its mission, "Science and Math through Literature." Not only does Halfmann's story provide animal facts, but the activities at the end of the book provide very interesting nature facts as well. In addition, there are additional teaching activities available for this title through the publisher's website. As a parent, I thought this was a great educational addition to the book. I even learned a few things myself!!
- Beyond Science: Having worked with elementary children as a school counselor, I believe this book moves beyond the themes of science and nature into the concept of self-esteem as well. I believe that this book affirms that we are always most comfortable in our own skin.
- Request After Request: Nothing is more resounding to a parent than to have a child ask for a book to be read over and over and over again! In my mind, this alone confirms the success of a book!
Halfmann has already earned many honors and awards for Little Skink's Tail, including Learning Magazine 2009 Teacher's Choice Award, Florida Publishers Association Best Picture Book and Best Overall Book for 2008, and 2009 Mom's Choice Award. As for our household, she will also be receiving the honor of knowing that her book will be treasured by my family for many years to come! If you have not yet picked up this title, it is one that you will want to add to your child's bookshelves, whether as a parent or an educator!
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Great Kid Books blog - February 2009
I love picture books that are silly, but also ask kids and grownups to think about deeper things. Here are two picture books that show animals trying on different tails, horns, ears - but really, they're asking, "Who Am I?" What sort of animal - or kid - do I want to be? Both books are definitely silly and had my kids giggling aloud.
Little Skink's Tail shows how a skink (a type of lizard) can snap off its tail when it's threatened by a hungry crow. "Wiggle, waggle, wiggle, went the tail, wriggling wildly through the fallen leaves." The crow then chases the bright blue tail, letting the little skink run to safety. But what is the skink to do, without its beautiful tail? Maybe she should grow a squirrel's tail? But it's too bushy? What about an owl's tail? A lizard with feathers? No! Sure enough, by the end, her own skink tail had grown back and she can go back to sunning on the rock. It's a simple book, but will engage young listeners and readers (ages 3 - 6). Find it here: Amazon.
--Mary Ann Scheuer
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Reading Rumpus blog - February 2009
With vivid illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein and a perfectly pitched mix of imagination and science by author Janet Halfmann, Little Skink's Tail is a fantastic picture book addition for your collection.
The publisher’s blurb: “While Little Skink hunts yummy ants for breakfast, she is suddenly attacked by a crow! But she has a trick to escape – she snaps off her tail, and it keeps on wiggling! Little Skink is happy to be alive, but she misses her bright blue tail. Little Skink’s Tail follows Little Skink as she daydreams of having the tails of other animals in the forest. Readers will enjoy pretending with her, trying on tail after tail….”
After reading Little Skink's Tail I felt ripped off! I’ve been living in South Florida for fifteen years and I’ve never seen a blue-tailed skink! Each afternoon, as I take my dog for a walk, I see all sorts of lizards sunning themselves. The most common is the anole, but I occasionally spy a big green iguana.
Though I’m not a picture book expert, I’m especially impressed with Little Skink's Tail for its appealing illustrations, personified voicing, charming characterization, large text and support materials (see below).
Little Skink's Tail has, rightly, won several awards: Florida Publisher’s Association Presidents book Award, 2009 Teacher’s Choice award from Learning Magazine, 09’ Mom’s Choice Award.
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Write for a Reader blog - February 2009
Little Skink is just a cute little character! I have never seen a children's book about a skink, and this one is just adorable. Children will love the use of onomonapeia, like sniff, sniff; and gobble, gobble, gobble, as well as the author's use of rhyme, like stickly-prickly, as Little Skink makes his way through the forest. Teachers will have ease in reading this to their students because the print is large and kid friendly. I think that children will learn from this enjoyable story and not know that they are even learning because the author does a great job of showing how the skink uses his tail to trick predators, but grows it back again. This is a concept that fascinates children. I feel like there's a message here for kids and I'm all for author's doing that with their books. Many times children are unhappy with a part of themselves and they dream of it being different or like somebody else's. Little Skink learns that even though the other animals had fine tails, not one was right for her. "A skink needs a skin's tail." Laurie Anne Klein used watercolor to create beautiful pictures for this story. It looks as if the pictures are on canvas because the texture seems to come through the page. The animals she's painted are so real looking, yet have faces that kids will love. Another thing about this book that I liked is that there is an educational section in the back titled, "For Creative Minds," that can be photocopied or downloaded from the publisher. The activities are a Footprint Map and Tail Matching Activity. Children will have fun with these. I really enjoyed this book and will be recommending it to parents, teachers and my school librarian. This book is appropriate for 4-8 year olds.
Little Skink's Tail is the recipient of the President's Book Award from the Florida Publisher's Association, the 2009 Teacher's Choice Award in Children's Books from Learning Magazine, and most recently earned the Mom's Choice Award as one of the Best Three Children's Books of 2009 as well as the Gold Award in the Educator's Choice and Animal Kingdom categories. You can see the announcement that Janet sent me, here.
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Ready Set Read Reviews blog - February 2009
I've reviewed several of Arbordale's books, and each time I'm amazed by how exceptional they are. If you're a child, parent, grandparent, or teacher looking for high quality, entertaining, yet highly educational books then look no further than what Arbordale has to offer. I kid you not, this company doesn't fool around. Working with only the highest caliber of authors and illustrators, you can't go wrong with any of the books they publish.
Most recently I was invited by author Janet Halfmann to review her book Little Skink's Tail; which, as it turns out, is a publication of Arbordale. I would have accepted Halfmann's offer no matter what; however, I must admit that when I learned of the publisher it was a deal clincher for me. It's like I said, I have a great respect for this publishing company, and I knew any book coming from them would not disappoint.
And what can I say? I'm in love!!! Little Skink's Tail is, by far, one of the cutest books of all time. By and far, this is a story that inspires imagination all the while teaching a great lesson. When we meet Little Skink she is busy enjoying a breakfast of ants in the bright morning sun. Caught up in the moment, Little Skink is oblivious to the fact that she's become the interest of a big, hungry crow. Caught with no place to go, Little Skink must determine a route of action. But it doesn't take her long to figure out what to do. Created with a built in safety feature, Little Skink quickly distracts her captor by snapping off her bright blue tail and diving for cover. The crow goes after the twitching tail, and Little Skink is able to get herself to safety.
Losing her tail is all fine and dandy, it's both a perk and draw back of being a Skink. She knows it will eventually grow back, yet in the meantime Little Skink begins to miss her beautiful tail. Feeling a bit sad, Little Skink watches the other animals in the woods around her. Then it hits her. What would it be like to have another creature's tail? Little Skink then goes on to imagine how she'd look if she had the tail of a rabbit, porcupine, squirrel, and more. Each looks pretty neat, but none is quite right. She is a Skink after all, and a Skink looks best with a Skink tail. I'm happy to report, though it seems like I'm crossing some forbidden line for sharing the ending, that Little Skink does infact find, at the end of this tale of tails, her very own tail grown back in gleeming color.
It was immediately evident why this title was selected as the 2008 FPA Best Children's Picture Book Winner, 2008 FPA Best Overall Book Winner, and 2009 Learning Magazine's Teachers' Choice Award Winner. With gorgeous watercolor illustrations, the incredibly talented Laurie Allen Klein, captures perfectly the playful and inquisitive story scenes. The story itself reads like a charm, and incorporates both an entertaining story with a good message. Everyone, even Little Skink, enjoys a little daydream wondering what things would be like if they were different in some small way. What I loved about this book was that while Halfmann showed it is okay and fun to use your imagination, at the end of the day you should always be happy with who you are. Just like Little Skink learned, each of us is uniquely created, and each is perfect as we are. You don't need to try to change yourself to be someone or something you're not.
As is the case with all Arbordale titles that I've had the pleasure of reading, this book ends with a great "Creative Minds" section. The first activity is a Footprint Map where the reader is asked to locate the matching footprint for each animal on an illustrated grid. This activity teaches matching skills, number and alphabet skills, directional skills, and also counting skills. The second and last activity is also one of matching, howbeit a different sort. This time readers are shown a picture of each animal tail (featured in the story), and they then must match it to the animal name. On it's own this activity might not sound all too educational, but it is. Readers will find, alongside each animal name, a little blurb describing what each animal uses his tail for- attraction, protection, steering, balance, etc. So, they'll have fun doing the activity, and come away from it having hopefully learned something new.
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Books Ahoy! - January 2009
Little Skink is sunning herself on a rock when she is suddenly attacked by a large crow. She gets away with her life, but loses her tail. As she looks at all of the animals around her, she imagines what it would be like to have tails like theirs. But none of the other tails seem to fit. One is, "so short and stubby", another, "Too stickly-prickly" a third, "Too pointy". How will Skink fix her problem, and find the perfect tail?
The text in this book is really wonderful. Short and to the point, great for young readers and listeners, but also containing well chosen descriptive words. The story is very fun--engaging the imagination, educating, and entertaining.
The watercolor illustrations have a textured and natural look. The animals are realistically drawn, but with humanising touches in facial expression and eyes. Wonderful little details can be found throughout the book. The first time I read the book, I didn't even notice some of them: such as the little caterpillar which grows a cocoon, emerges from it, and can be seen as a beautiful butterfly by the end of the book; also, the animal which will have it's tail tried on next can be seen hiding somewhere on the page before it's turn.
This book not only teaches about animals, and their physiology, but has a great lesson to be learned about being happy and comfortable with who you are. Further extending the fun learning opportunities is the 'For Creative Minds' section in the back of the book, where there is a footprint map, and a tail matching activity. Both which were thoroughly enjoyed by my three year old.
Arbordale Publishing describes its books as "science and math through literature". A worthy goal, which they have managed to accomplish very well. The Arbordale website has some great information and further activities and resources to go along with each book, such as quizzes and teaching activities. I will definitely keep my eyes out for more books by this publisher.
--Book Lover Lisa
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Once Upon A Time - January 2009
To escape from a hungry crow, Little Skink snaps off her bright blue lizard tail. Now, although she is gratefully alive, she misses her tail. Seeing all the animals that live around her, Little Skink wonders what it would be like to have each of their tails. She visualizes her tail's new look on each page of the book. "A porcupine's tail: "Too stickly-prickly," she said. An owl's tail: "A lizard with feathers?" she exclaimed. "I don't think so!"
Of course, none of the tails were right for her. While realizing this, she is on a sunny rock and sees her shadow. Guess what? Her shadow had a tail. The book ends with her seeing a bright blue tail that grew back on her.
This is a colorful picture book that not only will be exciting for children to see and read, but it will inform them about different animals. This book would go very well with a science curriculum on this subject.
After the story ends, there are a few pages of informative activities. "For Creative Minds" is an educational section that may be photocopied or downloaded. There is a footprint map activity with questions, a map grid, as well as a trail matching activity. As a parent and a teacher I appreciate the scientific accuracy as well as the enjoyment factor these offer. My daughter loved doing the "For Creative Minds" section after I read her the book.
There are additional resources available on their website www.arbordalepublishing.com. I was able to quickly go there, choose the book, look up related websites, click on one about deer tails, and see pictures of real deer with information. They also offer English and Spanish audio readings online for free, as well as many other free services.
I definitely recommend this award winning book!
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Library Media Connection - January 2008
Grades K-4: Animal physiology, predator-prey relationships, and survival techniques are among the science concepts presented in this fictional picture book by an author of many children’s stories about the animal world. Little Skink, a perky, blue-tailed lizard, dislodges her prized appendage to distract a hungry crow and make a quick escape. Mourning her loss, she imagines herself wearing the tails of various forest animals she meets until she realizes her own has grown back, and it’s the perfect one for her. Illustrations depict Little Skink with a series of mismatched tails and show how porcupines, owls, skunks, and other critters differ physically from lizards. Children will enjoy trying to explain why different tails look and work the way they do. The book also touches on themes of individuality and self-acceptance. Author Janet Halfmann’s animal characters are personified enough to enliven the story, but this does not detract from the simple biological principles introduced. The forest setting and illustrations are natural and believable. A section of activities reinforces comprehension and logical thinking and can be downloaded from the publisher’s Web site for classroom use. This is a practical read-aloud choice for younger elementary audiences. Recommended.
–Jennifer MacKay, Staff Editor, American Book Publishing, Sparks, Nevada
President | Environmental Education Association of Illinois - August 2007
One of the most scientifically accurate children’s fiction I have found and the only account of skink natural history I have ever found combined with a charming story of how Little skink loses his tail (as we all know truly happens) when attacked by a crow. He then wonders through the forest and studies the tails of other forest creatures while examining what special adaptations and features each tail offers to defend or assist that creature (Owl silent feathers;skunk smell; etc.). Soon he realizes his own tail has regenerated (as truly happens -- I LOVE this book), and he is happy to be himself again. A must-have title for all of our Herp programs!
Pudgy Penguin Perusals blog - January 2009
This is an absolutely delightful story geared to ages 4-8, encompassing not only entertainment but education. I like the message that you are great just the way you are. All the illustrations are so beautifully and cleverly done they will bring a smile to anyone reading the book. Little skink almost seems to be smiling as the illustrator does a wonderful job with facial expressions on all of the animals. At the end of the book is a footprint map that includes all the animals in the book . There is also a tail matching activity along with facts about each tail. Ms. Halfmann's book has received the Teacher's Choice Award for 2009 and also the President's Book Award from the Florida Publisher's Association, Inc.
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School Library Journal - January 2008
Gr 2-4–Little Skink loves her beautiful blue tail, but when a crow pecks at it, she snaps it off, thus saving her life. After her dramatic escape, she envisions herself with the tails of the other animals, but only one is right–her own. This tale has some funny moments, as well as information. Klein’s playful watercolors are vibrant and depict a lively forested world. The book could be used in a unit on woodland animals, and the reproducible nature activities in the back make it attractive to teachers.
–Susan E. Murray, Glendale Public Library, AZ
Fuse #8 - October 2007
The skink does not often get its due. Here you have an animal that can remove its own tail and grow it back again, yet how much cred does it get in the children's book world? Hardly any. You're far more likely to find picture books about newts and salamanders than your average everyday skink. I wouldn't call myself a Skink Advocate, but the minute I saw the title and cover of Janet Halfmann's newest book I felt inclined to see and learn more. I see very few books from small presses like Arbordale, and fewer still that tickle my fancy. "Little Skink's Tail" is one of the few, and it's a lovely little delight of a book.
Little Skink was having a perfectly nice day right up until the moment a hungry crow decided to make a quick snack of her. Snapping off her own bright blue tail (as skinks tend to do in these situations) she escapes beneath a log as the crow dives for the still wiggling ex-extremity. The next day Little Skink feels a bit bereft without her tail. Looking at some of the other animals in the forest, she contemplates the advantages of growing one tail over another. Bunnies have nice tails but they're awful puffy. Squirrels would be fun, but there's a bushiness there to be reckoned with. Systematically Little Skink rules out the advantages of having the tails of deer, skunks, porcupines, owls, and turtles, each time imagining the tails on her own body. A couple days later, though, the perfect tail grows back. One of the bright bottle blue persuasion. Factual back matter round out the book by teaching kids about animal tracks, navigation, and the evolutionary advantages of one tail over another.
The book could have gone wrong a variety of different ways. If Halfmann had made it too cute and filled it with adorable talking woodland creatures, for example. Or she could have made the skink actually grow these tails rather than just imagine what they'd look like. Yet Halfmann is pretty adept at keeping strictly to the factual elements of her story. If the book is cute, that's only because it never trips into preciousness. The narrative is straightforward as well. Personally, I might have suggested turning the various tails Little Skink tries out into bright blue versions, but I can see why the decision was made to keep them their original colors. A child reading this book might have a hard time connecting a bright blue deer tail to its subtler, browner equivalent, after all.
Laurie Allen Klein's endearing skink is probably the real reason I wanted to get my hands on the book, though. A clever idea will get you only so far in the picture book market. If your illustrator is sub-par then it really doesn't matter how wonderful your words are. No one is going to purchase a picture book if they think it looks unprofessional. Fortunately for everyone Klein's illustrations are a nice mix of cute and accurate. She plays with angles and perspective enough to keep the eye constantly in motion. The ratio of animal sizes in this book is consistent as well.
According to the bookflap of this title, Sherry Crawley, Director of Education for the School and Family Programs at Zoo Atlanta, went through this book to verify the accuracy of the information. Certainly the back matter is fun and nicely educational. Still, though this section is useful in many ways, I would have appreciated more time spent discussing skinks and their amazing regeneration abilities. Just a quick sentence or two about the critters would have been sufficient to my needs. All that aside, "Little Skink's Tail" is a nice example of a simple idea brought to life in a picture book format with plenty of factual matter to complement the fiction. An ideal purchase for those parts of the country overridden with skinks, and those parts that know nothing about them and would benefit from a well-written story. A book worth noticing.
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The Moderate Voice - October 2007
From 1980-1982 I worked on Knight-Ridder’s Wichita Eagle-Beacon as a general assignment reporter, and I had the pleasure of having my desk right next to a skillful yet always-nice reporter named Janet Halfmann. I later had the pleasure of meeting her family and she and her family were the embodiment of “family values,” just as she was the perfect role model for anyone in the press — a thorough reporter, accurate, a skillful writer and a genuinely wonderful lady.
I left Wichita in January 1982 to join the staff of Copley Press’ The San Diego Union and never saw Halfmann again, but we exchanged Christmas cards. And during the intervening years, I learned that she left the news biz herself to become a highly respected and popular writer of children’s books. And who would be more qualified to do that that someone who talked the talk and walked the walk of someone who truly cared about kids and families and treating everyone with respect?
Now, as someone who personally still loves to read children’s books (I once had aspirations to write kids’ books), I see she has new children’s book out — and it is a winner. The title: Little Skink’s Tail, and her note to readers on Amazon is typically Janet:
Dear Reader, I hope you enjoy pretending with Little Skink as much as I enjoyed daydreaming with her while I wrote Little Skink’s Tail. I met Little Skink when I was writing a nonfiction book about all kinds of lizards. There she was, twitching her bright blue tail, and I knew she had a story to tell. Before long, she was slinking in and out of our dress-up box, showing off tail after tail. She reminded me of my granddaughter — one of the world’s great pretenders! While I watched the show in my daydreams, I got the chance to play with words, imagining the fun things Little Skink would say about each tail. What a wonderful time we had, and I wish the same for you! Happy Reading, Janet Halfmann
The story follows Little Skink, who dreams of having the tails of other animals in the forest. Skinks can regrow their tails…but we won’t give the rest of the delightful plot away (you can read people giving it away on amazon if you check out the rave reviews). But it’s written in the way Halfmann did her reporting: solid, stylish and something you’d be proud to show to anyone. And what better recommendation than THAT to readers who’ll buy the book to show it to their most prized people — their children?
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ChildrensPictureBooks.info - October 2007
Little Skink snaps off her beautiful blue lizard tail to save herself from a hungry crow. Tailless, she begins to wonder what it would be like to have tails like the many forest animals she sees each day. In her imagination she tries on a rabbit tail, a deer tail, a porcupine tail, even an owl’s tail. But as with Goldilocks none were just right. In the end her own tail grows back and she happily states, A skink needs a skink’s tail.”
The lovely nature illustrations that accompany this tail, errr tale, offer details for the curious child to discover. Those who look closely at the illustrations will discover the story of a caterpillar that changes into a chrysalis from which appears a monarch butterfly. Several pages of activities allow children to learn about animal tracks and why each animal has a different type of tail.
Children's Literature Comprehensive Database - July 2007
Little Skink the lizard is content to sit in the sun and chase ants. She is particularly fond of her bright blue tail. However, she finds herself in a tight situation when a hungry crow rushes in to make a meal of Little Skink. Fortunately, Little Skink has the built in ability to shed her tail without harm to herself. This she does, and the crow is happy to chase the flopping tail and forget about Little Skink. However, Little Skink is sad to be without her tail. She imagines having a tail like other animals she sees but realizes in the end that the rabbit, squirrel, deer, skunk, porcupine, owl and turtle do not have tails that would work for her. In the end, she is pleasantly surprised, and content, to discover that her own tail has grown back as bright and blue as ever. After all, she has learned that a skink’s tail is best for a skink! Delightful text, fanciful illustrations, and intriguing page lay-outs fill this book. Young readers will find new things each time they read it or hear it. It allows for discussion about diversity and adaptability and, as with all Arbordale books, it contains extra fun and educational materials at the back of the book. - Nancy Attebury
Charlotte's Library Blog - July, 21 2008
I have always been partial to skinks. Partly it's because I think "skink" is fun to say, especially if you say "skeeenk." Partly it's because there are skinks at my parents' house, so they remind me of my happy childhood (and reasonably happy young adulthood, and happy trips down there with my own kids). Little Skink's Tail, by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein (2007, Arbordale Publishing), is the cutest skink picture book I have ever read (it is also the only skink book I've ever read, but still it's darn cute).
It begins in a fairly typical "picture book about wild animal" style--the little skink is basking on a rock, ready to start her day. Then--Danger! A hungry crow swoops down! Will little skink be the crow's breakfast? No! Thanks to her detachable tail, which goes "wriggling wildly through the fallen leaves," little skink is safe. But now she is tail-less, and she misses her pretty blue tail.
So she daydreams--how would she look with a tail like a bunny? Like a squirrel? Like a deer? and so on. And a little skink looks absolutely adorable with all these tails (these are very funny illustrations), but no tail is as good as her own....
And in the end, it grows back.
After the story, as a bonus feature, there are a few activity pages that held the interest of my now eight year old.
This a great read aloud, and a great book to savour quietly.
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A Wrung Sponge - September 2007
This story is based on the real life ability of skinks (small blue tailed lizards) to lose their tail in order to escape danger. The sweet little skink in the story is happily sunning on a rock and eating ants when she is attacked by a crow. She loses her tail and makes her get away, leaving the crow to chase her wiggling tail.
Little skink then starts to daydream about what it would be like to have different sorts of tails. A white-tailed dear? A cottontail rabbit? A squirrel, a skunk or a porcupine? She imagines herself with each and then decides they are not quite right a skink like her. Imagine her delight when she notices she has regrown her very own tail!
Buddy adores this story. He has requested it every night for the past week, ever since our review copy came in the mail. He laughs out loud to see the skink with a skunk, porcupine or owl tail. He pours over the gorgeous, vibrant illustrations, taking in all the carefully drawn details of the variety of animal and plant life of the forest and field. His quick five-year-old eyes immediately noticed the hidden monarch caterpillar on several pages, crowing with delight to see it weave a cocoon and then emerge a beautiful butterfly on the last page.
In the back of the book there are a few activity pages which we both enjoy. Buddy is learning to match animals with their footprint as well as read a grid and a compass rose from studying the footprint map. He gets pleasure out of matching up the animal tails with the names of the animals and the brief description of how each animals tails serve them. On the Arbordale website I found additional activities and links to extend our learning, which I am looking forward to sharing with him.
This is a charming picture book that introduces the lives and habitats of real animals. The large print text, detailed illustrations and extended learning activities will satisfy young children as well as inviting them to continue to explore and expand their understanding of their world.
Armchair Interviews - July 2007
As she snacks on ants one day, a happy little skink (lizard) loses her tail to a hungry crow in Little Skink’s Tail by Janet Halfmann. Saddened by the loss of her tail, she spends time imagining what she would look like with the tails of various other woodland creatures. While Little Skink is contemplating the reasons why the tails of other animals would not fit her body, her own tail is growing back, to her delight.
The story is a pleasure to read to young children aged four to eight. Laurie Allen Klein’s illustrations are adorable and engaging. Imagine a skink with a squirrel’s tail, and the laughter that will erupt from young readers at the sight. Klein is certainly a talented artist in her ability to make a lizard look incredibly cute and cuddly, even in the eyes of a squeamish mother. She also illustrated If a Dolphin Were a Fish for Arbordale Publishing.
In addition, Halfmann’s storyline is educational and informative. As readers become familiar with the character of Little Skink, they are also becoming familiar with a defense mechanism of many lizards. Halfmann came up with the idea for Little Skink’s Tail while completing research for another book and writing an article for Ranger Rick magazine.
The story closes with a footprint map for use in identifying the tracks of the various animals Little Skink encounters. There is a matching activity explaining the functions each animal’s tale performs. Both exercises can be downloaded and printed from the publisher’s website. As always, Arbordale Publishing has produced another quality teaching tool.
Armchair Interviews says: Arbordale holds a special place on the bookshelf in this reviewer’s home. - Sabrina Williams
BookIdeas.com - October 2007
Little Skink is a lizard. One day Little Skink suns on a rock, then goes to a log for breakfast. Yummy ants!
But tragedy almost befalls Little Skink. A crow almost had Little Skink for breakfast! Fortunately the tail can detach—and while the crow followed the wiggle-waggle tail, Little Skink found refuge.
But now Little Skink had no tail. As she met other forest animals in the coming days, she wondered how she would look with their tails. The illustrations showing these possible combinations are very clever! Can you imagine a lizard with the tail of a rabbit, squirrel, deer, turtle, skunk, or porcupine? Of course Little Skink found a reason each tail would not be right.
So does Little Skink get a new tail? Early readers will enjoy finding this out. Smaller children will enjoy the colorful illustrations as the book is read to them—and most small children love animals anyway.
The book does have exercises for children in the back. One as a grid to locate the hoof prints of the animals Little Skink dreams of sharing tails with. The other is a matching exercise where the child matches the tail with its description.
-John L. Hoh, Jr.
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Book Buds - October 2007
A skink's a type of lizard with a dazzling cobalt tail, which the poor critter loses in a fight with a crow. While this saves her life, it leaves her unadorned, poor thing. While she's waiting for it to grow back, she imagines herself with tails from other forest animals.
A squirrel's tail is too bushy, nor does a porcupine's tail please. And feathers? Still no.
Halfmann really runs with this idea, keeping the storyline simple but upping the ante as Skink considers the different appendages. Even kids unfamiliar with most of these animals will get the humor in Skink's good-natured tail shopping.
Klein's watercolors are lifelike, the better to educate, and exercises in the back enhance our foray into Skink's forest. Like If a Dolphin Were a Fish, (also by this illustrator) it's a fanciful way of teaching what an animal is by demonstrating what it isn't -- which uses fairy-tale transformation to impart factual information.
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Front Street Reviews - October 2007
Little Skink's Tail is a delightful story of a little lizard that loses her beautiful blue tail. Sadden by her tail-less new look, she imagines having a tail of animals that she sees. Her imagination has her sporty tails from a puffy tail to a pointy tail and others in between.
Your children will be mesmerized by the story as well as the beautiful illustrations that accompany this tale of tails. My children could not wait for story time in our house when this book arrived. I gathered them all around in our story circle, as well call it, and read to them the story of Little Skink's Tail. I'm not sure they even blinked an eye as the story unfolded. I know the story as well as the illustrations kept their interest and it helped that we have skinks on our property.
At the end of the book, there are two activity pages to familiarize your child with animal tracks as well as their tails. I knew my children were really paying attention when my 3 year old could tell me what tail belonged to which animal in the story. I can see now that I will be making copies of those two pages for my children to do (over and over and over). My oldest boys have already read this book 3 or 4 times more each since our first initial reading. I'm not sure who loved this book more... them or I! As an added bonus, the publisher offers online teaching links on their site for Teaching Activities, and Learning Links.
The author, Janet Halfmann, has been writing for children for more than twenty years, and this is her 28th book. Before becoming a full-time freelance children’s writer, she was a manager, editor, and writer of coloring and activity books for Golden Books; the editor of a national children’s magazine; and a reporter for a daily newspaper. A member of the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Janet has recently published Alligator at Saw Grass Road (fall 2006), Polar Bear Horizon, Canada Goose at Cattail Lane, Dolphin's Rescue, Red Bat at Sleepy Hollow Lane, and Pelican’s Catch. Janet was inspired to write Little Skink’s Tail while researching for one of her other books, Nature’s Predators: Lizards, and for an article that she wrote for Ranger Rick, “Slinky Skinks.” Another inspiration was her granddaughter, whom she enjoys watching play dress-up and pretend. As Janet wrote the book, she pictured her granddaughter putting on and showing off each tail.
Mayra's Secret Bookcase - October 2007
One day Little Skink, a blue-tailed young lizard, is basking on a big rock in the morning sun. Leaping to the floor, she begins to gobble up her breakfast, which consists of yummy-smelling ants, when suddenly a big crow appears and attacks. Luckily, Little Skink manages to escape. There’s only one problem: her tail is gone! Where did her bright blue tail go? Did the crow snap it off? What will Little Skink do now, without her wiggling, waggling tail?
She’s happy to be alive, but sad at having lost her tail. She can’t get her lost tail off her mind, so she begins to imagine how she would look with other animals’ tails. How would she look with a rabbit’s tail?
No, too ‘puffy-fluffy’. What about with a porcupine’s? No, too ‘sticky-prickly.’ And so on and so forth with the different forest creatures. Will Little Skink’s tail ever grow back?
This is a colorful, engaging, beautifully illustrated book that teaches children about animals and their tails. At the end of the book there are activities for ‘Creative Minds’—a footprint map and a game for matching different types of tails with their corresponding animals.
Jen Robinson's Book Page - November 2007
Little Skink's Tail, written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein is an educational picture book from Arbordale Publishing. Although the story of Little Skink and her lost tail is fiction, the book is based on facts about skinks and other animals. Skinks are a type of lizard. According to Wikipedia, "Skinks usually have long, tapering tails that can be shed and regenerated... Some have blue tails."
The Little Skink in our book has a long, blue tail. One morning, while Little Skink is eating breakfast, a crow comes along and grabs her. To protect herself, Little Skink sheds her tail. The tail continues to wiggle, distracting the crow, giving Little Skink time to hide and save herself. On subsequent mornings, missing her tail, Little Skink imagines what it would be like to have the tail of various other animals. The resulting illustrations are quite humorous, especially the lizard with an owl's tail. Fortunately, things turn out exactly right for Little Skink in the end.
While not exactly long on plot, Little Skink's Tail (which I keep wanting to call Little Skink's Tale) is educational and humorous. I think that it will be a hit with animal-loving preschoolers, especially boys looking for facts in an engaging package. The text is both poetic and energetic. Here's an example:
"Wiggle, waggle, wiggle,
went the tail,
wriggling wildly through
the fallen leaves.
The crow forgot all about Little Skink.
It wanted that wiggling, waggling tail!
As the crow bounced
this way and that,
Little Skink slinked under a log.
She was safe."
I personally find "Little Skink slinked" to be very pleasing text. And I can imagine young readers wiggling and wriggling in delight when they read the above passage.
Laurie Allen Klein's illustrations are in textured colored pencil, with a faint cross-hatch pattern. It's somewhat impressionistic - forming shadows from a distance, but visible as texture from close up. From very close up, the pictures look like embroidery. The palette uses mainly greens and browns, reflecting the colors of the forest.
One other nice thing I noticed in the illustrations is that each page spread contains, hidden away somewhere in a corner, a glimpse of the animal whose tail will be featured on the next page. So, for instance, while Little Skink is imagining how she would look with a rabbit's tail, a squirrel looks on from a tree. On the next page, Little Skink imagines herself with a squirrel's tail, and another animal looks on. I think that this is a great feature for reading with preschoolers - giving them a pattern to watch for. I also like how Little Skink's posture changes depending on which tail she's wearing. I think it could be fun for kids to act out the various postures.
At the end of the book are two page spreads of exercises for kids. The publishers suggested xeroxing these pages, and also offer them for download from the Little Skink website (the For Creative Minds PDF). The first page has a footprint map of the forest, asking kids to locate the footprints of different types of animals on a grid of the forest floor. Supplemental questions ask them to count the distance in squares between animals, and practice compass directions. The next page asks kids to match pictures of different animal tails with their descriptions, and includes tidbits about how the various animals use their tails.
All in all, I think this is a great read for kids who like facts, and for kids who love animals (especially lizards). Little Skink is a winner. I support Arbordale and the authors for their efforts to make learning about science and nature educational. I look forward to seeing their future offerings.
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Stories for Children Magazine - January 2008
This charming story is about Little Skink, a lizard, who's enjoying a nice peaceful day…that is, until she goes hunting for ants for breakfast. A hungry crow goes after Little Skink's distinctive blue tail. In order to save herself from becoming Crow's breakfast, Little Skink snaps off her blue tail. Her tail continues to wiggle, keeping Crow's attention. Little Skink uses the opportunity to save herself by hiding under a log.
Little Skink is sad about losing her tail, so she starts to wonder what it would be like to have a tail like one of the other animals in the forest. Every day, she imagines she has the tail of whatever animal walks by her. No tail is suitable, and she's sure she'll never find "just the right tail" to replace her lost bright blue one. The story ends on an upbeat note, sure to please the reader.
Author Janet Halfmann's precise text makes this a fun story to read. Coupled with the outstanding illustrations by Laurie Allen Klein, the reader is provided with excellent visuals to see Little Skink in the assorted tails she sports while trying to find "just the right tail". This scientifically accurate book has a "For Creative Minds" section at the end of the story with a unique Footprint Map to help children recognize the distinct footprints of several animals, as well as a "Tail Matching" Activity to help the reader remember and correctly identify the tails of the animals portrayed in this story. As always, Arbordale Publishing has printed a quality, beautiful, fun, and scientifically accurate book for children. Author Janet Halfmann's text urges children to think in a logical, creative way; add in the colorful, crisp images created by Laurie Allen Klein, this book is a sure bet to stimulate the minds of animal-loving children everywhere!
In addition, readers can find cross-curricular “Teaching Activities,” an audio reading, child-friendly “Learning Links,” and comprehension and math quizzes for free at www.arbordalepublishing.com.
The Edge of the Forest - December 2007
Janet Halfmann's Little Skink's Tail takes an interesting animal phenomenon and turns it into a fanciful, fun story. A little skink slinks out one day to catch some sun and some yummy ants. She's a beautiful little lizard with brown and white stripes and a bright blue tail. While gobbling up the tasty ants, however, she's spotted by a "large, hungry crow." To evade the predator, Little Skink snaps off her tail and it goes wriggling off into the leaves, taking the crow with it.
Little Skink misses her tail, but passes her days imagining the tails of her forest friends attached to her own body. But, of course, no other tail is quite right. A porcupine's tail is "too stickly-prickly," for example, and a deer's too "short and stubby." Halfmann has a lot of fun with language in Little Skink's Tail, using snappy, evocative adjectives to bring a sense of fun to the skink's search for a new tail.
Laurie Allen Klein's illustrations are warm and foresty, with friendly animals scampering across a green and brown landscape. Little Skink's Tail is perfect for three-to six-year-old naturalists and for school units on animal adaptations or lizards.
-Kelly Herold, Big A little a
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Children's Book Reviews
Oh no, Little Skink’s Tail is stolen! She is scared and sad. Can she get another tail? What kind of tail would she like next? A skunk’s tail, a turtle’s tail, an owl’s tail? No tails she sees in the forest seems just right. Luckily, she is a lizard. Do you know how lizards get their tails? This book will tell you.
Author Janet Halfmann and Illustrator Laurie Allen Klein do a splendid job in telling this tale and in painting not only Little Skink, but also all of the forest and its inhabitants. Therefore, the young reader will learn all about a whole woodland habitat. One matching activity in the back goes further in explaining the uses of many other animal’s tails, for instance a rabbit raises its cottontail to tell other rabbits about trouble ahead. This book is a terrific addition to a home or classroom, ages 5 - 8. Just think how wonderful a forest or lizard unit would be in a classroom. One can just see a diorama created by children based on the book!
A Readable Feast - December 2007
Little Skink's Tail - Written by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein, this story follows Little Skink while she hunts yummy ants for breakfast. Suddenly she's attacked by a crow, and escapes by snapping off her tail! Little Skink is happy to be alive, but she misses her bright blue tail. She daydreams of having the tails of other animals in the forest and tries on tail after tail. Like all books from Arbordale Publishing, the book comes with a “For Creative Minds” section with information on tail adaptations and communications and a mix-and-match tail activity. Check out the Arbordale website for Teaching Activities, Learning Links, and a downloadable For Creative Minds (PDF).
- Anne-Marie Nichols in a "Last-minute Gift Ideas for Young Children" post
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BookPleasures.com - March 2008
Janet Halfmann’s Little Skink’s Tail has something a lot of nonfiction books for children don’t—it has a moral just like fiction. The story’s got a natural science bent, but perhaps the real value of the story is that everything is perfect, just as it is.
While Skink has breakfast, she almost becomes breakfast herself. When a crow attacks her, she quickly snaps off her tail and escapes. Without her tail, she’s a bit sad. She tries to imagine herself with another tail—a rabbit’s tail, a squirrel’s tail, a skunk’s tail… and so it goes.
Then, one day, she realizes she has a new tail—the familiar blue tail she always loved. It’s grown back and she likes it that way. No other tail is just right for skink.
Although Skink made me chuckle a few times, this book is neither too cute nor too serious. Halfmann handles the subject skillfully. Children will love the story and adults and teachers will appreciate the tone and accuracy.
Laurie Allen Klein’s illustrations are smartly cute. By that, I mean that children are going to love Skink in her many tails, but Klein never goes too far. Her pictures are likeable, but still sensitive to the book’s purpose.
The back matter includes a section on adaptation and communication and a mix and match activity, using tails of course. Like everything I’ve ever read from Arbordale Publishing, this book is a treat.
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