Today's book is all about Oscar and the Bird: A Book About Electricity by Geoff Waring.
"What's electricity?" Oscar asked. "It's a kind of energy that people use to help things move, make sounds, light up, or heat up," Bird said." (Waring, 2009)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publish Date: 2009
Lexile Reading Level: AD620L
A "Start with Science" Book
This is an narrative informational nonfiction book that is a part of a "Start with Science" series featuring Oscar the cat, and other animals that help answer his questions about science. Each book covers a different part of introductory science. For example there's also Oscar and the Bat, which is a book about sound, Oscar and the Cricket, which is about moving and rolling. There's also Oscar books about other basic concepts such as light and dark. I chose to focus on Oscar and the Bird because it's a book in this series that I have access to, and it's one that I've started to work closely with as we start our Circuitry activities at my local library.
This is another "Intro to nonfiction" book for youth that poses and answers questions in a instructional way, however using language and vocabulary that is familiar with young children. Waring's illustrations are friendly and curious, but very basic. The pages have a mostly solid, but bright colored backgrounds on the pages, so the characters and the diagrams stick out. Oscar the cat is drawn with very big eyes that make it clear that he is a very curious cat, ready to learn about new things. The examples look realistic, but have minimal detail so that way children have a good visual of the concept being learned. Oscar and the Bird focuses on electricity. Oscar stumbles upon windshield wipers on a tractor and asks the wipers move. Bird swoops in and explains that it's because of electricity, and breaks down the parts of a circuit.
Oscar and the Bird would be a great read aloud accompaniment to a circuitry activity for young children (Pre-K-2nd grade) because one of the key objectives in a basic circuitry lesson is to talk about how electricity works and that you need a power source, conductive materials, and a switch to move electricity around, and finally, a light/motor to create the desired effect. I would recommend it because it reads like a story book, however, there's really not much of a story. There is a fictional cat and a bird, but they're facilitating a discussion and explaining the concept. There's no dramatization and the characters are there to represent a voice that appeals to children. It does the work of providing a child-friendly definition of electrical concepts for us, and gives us more time to have productive discussions with children and applying the story to the rest of the lesson or activity.
The last pages of the book summarize everything that Oscar learned about electricity with visuals/diagrams, and t includes an index of key words. When continuing an activity this would be a great page to reference or blow up on a projector screen to remind children what concepts were introduced in the book. There is not a bibliography in this particular book in the series, which is a little disappointing. However at the beginning of the book there is a credit to someone from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education for input and guidance throughout the making of the book so that tells me that some professional advice was sought when putting the book together, which is better than no source citing at all.
I know that this book is a little bit older, however, it was reprinted again in 2011 and that's the current version that's available from Walmart, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other websites. I think it's harder to find in stores, but readily available online. Part of the reason why I wanted to highlight this book is because we are working on developing Circuitry activities at work and we spent quite awhile looking for a quality book that would be good to read aloud to young children to help explain the concept and tie in well with an introductory circuitry activity. Oscar and the Bird completely fits the bill for us because of it's clean illustrations and diagrams and child-friendly language. What I also like about it is that it furthers the discussion and talks about how electricity can be made from other forms of energy such as wind. I'd recommend it for any inquisitive child who likes to ask, "Why?"
|"Is electricity helping them move?" Oscar asked Bird. "No," Bird said. "It's the other way around! The wind turns the blades, and the movement makes electricity." (Waring, 2009).|