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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Steve Jenkins

Living Color by Steve Jenkins is a new release from Houghton Mifflin Company. I like the pairing of informational text with color-grouped animals. The text includes facts, but also unusual sayings. Take the pink page:

Pink says!
Dressed to kill.
Turn off the light!
There’s no one home.
Pretty in armor plating. 
More shrimp, please.

Did you know Most female parrotfish are blue, green, or brown, but if there are no males around, they can change sex? Yes, I know this because Steve tells me "The new male fish signals the change by turning bright pink, red, or yellow." 

I just had a conversation with kindergartners about it being okay for a boy to wear a pink bracelet labeled hope. I even pulled out a photo of men wearing pink shirts, but these guys pooh-poohed the thought. If I were to read the above fact to them, who knows what they’d do?! 

I especially like the animal facts pages at the end of this book. For example, did you ever wonder why mammals are so drab? I’ve used the Amazon Alphabet book before, but I think Living Color has a better fact pages at the end with descriptions including facts like body length, habitat and diet. 

Are you thinking research with me? Just wait until I show the art teachers this book Tuesday morning. I’d better get busy and prepare some web page information on each of these animals for further reading. I know my students are going to be asking me for books on the white uakari (who actually has a bright red face) and the blue-tongued skink. Hey, Steve, how about some web links in the next book? Hmm, off to check out his website links.

By the way, did you see that Vulture View was named a Theodor Seuss Geisel honor book at ALA Midwinter? I know the medallion should be the silver honor sticker, but it’s a Saturday night and I’m getting tired. Way to go April and Steve!!! I’m excited that others recognize the value this book has for our young students.


  1. Steve Jenkins says:

    In response to your comment about links: several years ago I did list a few web site links along with a bibliography in one of my books (The Top of the World). At least one of the sites I referenced ceased to exist shortly after the book was published, and I’ve since been reluctant to include links. I hope these books have a long life in print, and the URL universe can be a chaotic and unpredictable place.
    But your request gives me an idea (one that should have occurred to me already). I think I’ll include a brief guide to using a search engine, and provide a list of terms that will return relevant sites. Sometimes what seems like obvious search terms produce a lot of irrelevant (or worse) results. I can provide terms that should be helpful even if (when) the digital information landscape changes. Thanks for the nudge…

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