Champion Chompers, Super Stinkers and Other Poems by Extraordinary Animals

by Linda Ashman (Author) Aparna Varma (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th − 5th Grade

Learn about animal extremes through playful poems and fascinating facts. Who's tops in the animal world? Readers get to find out, as they play a guessing game that uses delightful persona poems to introduce 19 animals who are the best in some way. Each poem offers hints about the identity of an animal and what makes it so amazing. Included are popular categories, such as Biggest Animal Ever (blue whale) and Fastest Short-Distance Runner (cheetah), as well as more unexpected ones, such as Best Engineer (North American beaver) and Longest Tongue (giant anteater). Poems full of personality combined with intriguing science - what a lively and fun way to learn!

Linda Ashman's original approach to the ever-popular topic of animal characteristics makes for an appealing and informative book that animal lovers of all ages can enjoy. A full right-side page is dedicated to each charming persona poem - a poem written from the animal's perspective about itself - along with an illustration by Aparna Varma showing just a peek at part of the animal. Turn the page and, on the left side, discover the mystery animal, what category it's won, some interesting facts, including how the animal's standout characteristic was measured, and a full illustration. With its introductions to both animals and persona poems, this is that rare book that works equally well for language arts and life science lessons, and as an engaging read-aloud. The content is supported by a glossary, an explanation of persona poems with an activity and more information about animal science and endangered animals.

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School Library Journal

Starred Review

Gr 3-5--Poetry meets nonfiction in a skillfully designed and fun-to-read compendium. An opening call to animal contestants moves right into a guessing game for readers, featuring 19 familiar and lesser-known air, land, and water animals. "Think you're tops? The most? The best?" Facing the challenge, the righthand page sets a pattern with a hind view of a spotted animal tail and its blank verse poem titled "Eat My Dust." When readers turn the page, they find a full view and name of the cheetah, its champion trait of "Best Short-Distance Runner," and a paragraph explaining how this body is designed for lightning speed. Next up, on this facing page, a new partial view and poem. Simple, homely sketches of the animals are softly brushed with color, some set in white space and others in a bit of suggested background. Poems range from short-rhymed verses to nicely shaped lines, sometimes with embedded rhyme, flowing down the page. The closing page thanks the animals and reminds readers to watch for creatures in their world. The intriguing theme of "astounding feats and features" of animals and the nice flow of text invite reading. Back matter offers possibilities for further use of both poetry and science. A page on protecting endangered animals is followed by a bit of explanation about the work of scientists in measuring animal characteristics and a paragraph on mask poetry. "Recommended Reading" lists books of poetry about animals, while the glossary is all science terms related to animals. VERDICT Put this multifaceted package on the science shelves, and use it often and variously.--Margaret Bush

Copyright 2023 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Put this multifaceted package on the science shelves, and use it often and variously.—School Library Journal, starred review
Linda Ashman
Linda Ashman is the author of more than 40 picture books and the creator of The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Writing Picture Books. Her books have been included on the "best of the year" lists of the New York Times, Parenting and Child magazines, the New York Public Library, the ILA/CBC, and more, and have been translated into many languages. Ashman lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband and two elderly dogs.

Eve Coy is an author/illustrator based in the south of England. Among the picture books she has created are The Huffalots and Daddy-sitting. Coy likes bonfires, butterflies, and brisk walks. She does not like cleaning her room. She is best known for creating warm and charming characters using all sorts of art materials.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Kids Can Press
Publication date
June 20, 2023
BISAC categories
JNF042000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Poetry | General
JNF051150 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Science & Nature | Zoology
JNF003000 - Juvenile Nonfiction | Animals | General
Library of Congress categories
Juvenile works
Animal behavior
Habits and behavior
Guessing games

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