petproject As soon as I picked up this new poetry book, The Pet Project, I thought of the animal reports many of my students are doing and I knew I must get this book into the hands of those kids and their teachers! The Pet Project: Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Zachariah Ohora begins with this ominous verse:

If you’re the type who oohs and ahhs
at furry faces, precious paws,
the words ahead may be alarming:
Animals aren’t always charming.

Considering that I’ve been giving stacks of informational animal books to teacher-friends for student research projects, this poetry book comes at exactly the right time. It’s poetry month (hello, Range of Reading Standard!) and each poem about a different animal just begs to be compared to an informational book that will confirm the cool, and sometimes gross, facts. (Integrating Knowledge and Ideas? Check!)

For example, if you’ve got students who’re interested in monkeys, share this gem:

He looks so like a little man
     with smiling teeth and grasping hand.
He chatters to his monkey friends,
     but that is where the likeness ends.
His hair is full of bugs and lice.
     He flings his poo – His aim’s precise.
His scream sounds like a banshee’s wail.
     He swings from his prehensile tail.
And worst of all he smells so funky.
     If he’s a man, then I’m a monkey!

After your students calm down from giggling over poo-flinging, the research-sparking discussion can begin. Do monkeys really fling poo? What does prehensile mean? Do monkeys really smell funky? Time to pull out the informational non-fiction books for a fact-finding expedition. I love that Wheeler never dumbs down her vocabulary (you’ll find query, devise, and formulate all in the second poem). Discussing all the wonderful words she chose will help you hit the Craft and Structure Standard. So one little picture book can help you teach three Common Core State Standards, kick off student-led research projects, enrich vocabulary, and strengthen the love of poetry. I think we’ve just found a new teacher’s pet in The Pet Project.

For more information on the author, please visit: more information on the illustrator, please visit:

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