Stay Close to Mama by Toni Buzzeo; Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka
November 19, 2012 in Books with Science Content, Books with Science Content, Buzzeo Toni, Elementary Educators, Making Personal Connections, Picture Book, Preschool to 1st grade teachers, Young Adult Novels Tags: food chain, habitats, picture books about Africa, picture books about animals, teaching habitats
*Picture book for preschoolers through 1st graders
*Little giraffe as main character
*Rating: The illustrations of Stay Close to Mama are absolutely adorable, and it is a cute story, although parts confused me as an adult because the little giraffe gets in all sorts of dangerous situations because he doesn’t stay close to Mama, but Mama is right there–and both could be attacked. Anyway, kids won’t analyze like this–my daughter loves it at two because she is into Mama and Baby and animals. I got it from the library.
Short, short summary: Twiga (which means giraffe in Swahili) wants to explore his habitat, but his mama wants him to stay close and safe (as all of us mamas do!). Of course, he is curious, and so he sets off to explore (since Mama Giraffe cannot grab his hand), and he gets into all sorts of dangerous situations, such as in the river with an alligator, passing right by a hyena, getting stung on the nose by ants, and more. Each time, Mama is close behind, telling Twiga to stay safe; and in the end, Twiga realizes his mama is right–except he is still curious.
So, what do I do with this book?
1. For preschoolers and primary students, this is a great book to share and discuss stranger-danger and staying with your parent/teacher in a public place (such as on a field trip). Talk about what Twiga is doing in each illustration, and then compare that to a real life situation with your little one.
2. Stay Close to Mama can also be used to talk about the giraffe’s habitat in Africa and what else lives there–plants and animals. You can also bring into it predator and prey or food chains.
3. The author’s note at the end of the book gives some interesting information about giraffes. You could do one of two things with this. Before reading the book and the note, you could start a KWL chart–writing down what children already know about giraffes and then what they wonder. Then after the book, you can fill in the LEARN column. OR you could do a Venn diagram, comparing and contrasting a giraffe with an animal that children know more about like a dog.