Wednesday, October 28, 2015


Title:  Lifetimes

Author:  David L. Rice
Illustrator:  Michael S. Maydak
Publisher:  Dawn Publications ©1997
ISBN:  1-883220-59-9
Grade Level: 2 and up

Book Review:  From the one day lifetime of a mayfly to the 2,000 year lifetime of a giant sequoia, Lifetimes gives the reader the information to reflect on how similar and how different living creatures really are.  Lifetimes is one of those picture books that is written on so many levels: the colorful illustrations and introductory text can be enjoyed by a young child while the informational text is instructive for adults. Lifetimes has a variety of text features repeated consistently throughout the book making it very easy to access information.   Each page begins with the same sentence pattern: "A lifetime for a (species) is about (length of time)."  Then an expository paragraph gives information about the species featured on the page.  The entry concludes with a bolded statement that makes us think.  For example, "Butterflies show us it's possible to do important work and have fun at the same time."  Then at the very bottom of the page three little monkeys offer us ideas to "tell about," "think about" or "look up." The book is replete for ways to teach nonfiction text and science content about plants and animals.

Systems Thinking Connections:
Habits:  Observes how elements within systems change over time, generating patterns and trends.  Makes meaningful connections within and between systems.  Considers an issue fully and resists the urge to come to a quick conclusion. This book is clearly about time and trends that occur with in the lifetimes of many varied organisms. I identify three separate habits but list them all together because an integrated free flowing discussion where students are able to make their own connections and generate new understandings about these (and any other habits of a systems thinker) while making meaning of the text would be a tremendously rich discussion.
Tools:  Behavior Over Time Graphs seem an obvious choice for this text; however, because the length of time is different for each species careful attention will need to be given to construction of the graph.  Each species could easily constitute its own graph with the x-axis showing the lifespan of that creature and the y-axis representing stages of development.  Students could then compare.  For instance, how long is you childhood, when your life expectancy is a single day.
Ladder of Inference.  Questions on the Non-Fiction Ladder of Inference could all be answered in relation to this text.  The consistently patterned text lends itself well to a discussion of structure.  The thought provoking insights and basic questions of how each species is particularly suited to its particular lifespan would lead to a rich conversation about beliefs.

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