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Practically Paradise
Inside Practically Paradise

Extinct: Sabertooth

Patrick O’Brien’s Sabertooth won’t be released until June, 2008, but it needs to be placed on your order for fall now so you’ll have it when school opens. In fact, you’d better order two if you EVER think you’ll see this actually IN the library for you to share. Nope, after reading it again, I think you’ll need three copies because someone will forget theirs by the bed after demanding it be read over and over at bedtime.
Sabertooth by Patrick O’Brien
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers
Ages 5-9

Those of you who have met my children (God bless you!) know they loved a great nonfiction story for bedtime. #1 son was so entirely fascinated with dinosaurs and prehistoric animals that he had a timeline taped around his bed and would jump up to point out the time periods as we read. This was before he was 2 and a half years old. If he had seen this book, our story times could have expanded to so many "cat" tales. <sigh> Patrick, where were you when I needed you? 

The illustrations are superb watercolor and goache on watercolor paper. The text is clearly separated in boxes and is not overwhelming. The most text comes on the very last page which considers why they became extinct and how current big cats are threatened. 

One of my favorite page spreads shows the actual size of a long tooth of the saber-toothed cat compared to a tiger’s tooth and a person’s canine tooth. The same page has a drawing of a saber or curved sword. Can you imagine now how many children are going to want to compare their hand to the saber tooth? I’m all ready prepared to remind students that we don’t bring sabers to school. Perhaps we should remove the straws from the cafeteria that day.

Another of my favorite pages discusses the possible colors and patterns their fur could have been. Just imagine the debating, the voting, the rush to draw in art class… This will definitely become a favorite in our nonfiction read-alouds. I predict that my fourth graders will try to take all my copies to discuss animal classifications and time-lines. Back away 4th graders – these books are for the entire elementary school, not just the big kids.