Best Foot Forward: exploring feet, flippers, and claws; 5 out of 5 stars #bookaday

Best Foot Forward: exploring feet, flippers, and claws book cover

by Ingo Arndt
Holiday House, New York, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8234-2857-1
Description: 28 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 23 cm
Dewey: 591.47
Subject: Informational nonfiction; animal adaptations; question and answer format
Interest Level: K-3; Reading Level: 3.5
Lexile measure: 920
5 out of 5 stars
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Summary from jacket flap: “Whose foot is this? An intriguing close-up of an animal’s foot invites you to guess. Turn the page to find out if you’re right. You’ll discover that feet aren’t only for walking. Some feet are made for climbing, others for digging, or swimming, leaping, or grasping. A tiger silently stalks its prey on velvet paws. A gecko’s ribbed feet enable it to climb walls as smooth as glass. This book’s guessing game format makes learning about natural adaptation fun.

Evaluation: Overall, <i>Best Foot Forward</i> is an amazing picture book that centers around animal feet and the adaptations that make them well-suited to perform different tasks.

Similar to other question and answer books that I have looked at, this book features an opening two-page spread that repeats the question, “Whose foot is this?” An extreme close-up of the foot accompanies the question. This enables the reader and listener to really examine the foot and see the features that make it unique. Once you turn the page for the answer, you find out what animal’s paw we are examining, as well as a general category that fits the paw. The categories include: feet that walk, feet that climb, feet that swim, feet that dig, feet that jump, and extraordinary feet.

In addition to a full-page view of the featured animal, there is brief information about what makes the paw unique and suited to that animal. There is also a text box that talks about the category of feet and where this type of foot is particularly useful. For “feet that swim,” the text box tells us that “animals that swim need feet that help propel them in water.” Each section doesn’t just focus on one animal; up to four animals and their feet may be discussed.

What makes this book exceptional, is the incredible close-up photographs of the different animal feet. Even the foot of a common animal, like a duck, is fascinating when viewed up close.

<i>Best Foot Forward</i> is not as strong of a read-aloud as <i>What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?</i> While the stunning photographs will engage the same age group and are large enough to be seen in a group setting, the text is not as suited for a read-aloud. There is no narrative flow, so the reading is very choppy.

I would really recommend this book to individual readers, especially if they have just listened to a read-aloud of <i>What Do You Do with a Tail Like This?</i> If they liked the question and answer format of that one, this would make a good recommendation for pleasure reading. The short bursts of text are suited to reluctant readers or those who want to stretch themselves and read something a little above their independent level. The close-ups of feet invite the reader to spend time studying the photographs, which is something that is not suited for a read-aloud. There is also an index to the many animals included in the book, so readers can jump around and read about what interests them most.

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