Dynamic Book Duos: Celebrating Animals Through Poetry!

Please welcome authors Suzy Levinson and Susan Johnson to Dynamic Book Duos– a blog featuring two books that pair together in a meaningful way along with coordinating educational activities to strengthen reading skills. The theme for this week’s Dynamic Book Duos pairing is celebrating animals through poetry.

PERFECT PAIR: Celebrating Animals Through Poetry

Animals in Pants written by Suzy Levinson and illustrated by Kristen and Kevin Howdeshell and Animals in Surprising Shades: Poems About Earth’s Colorful Creatures written by Susan Johnston Taylor and illustrated by Annie Bakst show young readers that just like animals, poems can come in a great variety of fascinating forms. Both of these PB-poetry collections explore and celebrate the wide (and weird!) animal kingdom.

Book 1: Animals in Pants

An irreverently illustrated picture book of simple and silly poems featuring all kinds of animals wearing all kinds of pants!

What? You’ve never seen animals in pants? A dog in yoga pants, a goat in overalls, a yak in slacks? Animals in Pants presents a parade of impeccable poems about animals wearing perfectly pressed pants.

Book 2: Animals in Surprising Shades: Poems About Earth’s Colorful Creatures

Readers discover fascinating colorful creatures throughout the world in this collection of STEAM-themed poems that doubles as an introduction to kid-friendly poetic forms. Perfect for science, LA/writing and social science classrooms, and to showcase nature’s amazing artwork.


Activity 1: ACTING OUT

Have students read a few poems and write down as many verbs as they can find. For instance, in Animals in Surprising Shades: Poems About Earth’s Colorful Creatures a ghost crab “slinks away from hungry birds” and in Animals in Pants, a raccoon “feasts on foodstuffs.” How might they act out these verbs? What would they do with their bodies if they pretended to be that ghost crab or raccoon? What other verbs can they find?


Let’s go on a poetic treasure hunt! Have your class search through both picture books for examples of:

·         A rhyming poem (which utilizes meter and a rhyme scheme)

·         A poem in free verse (which does not utilize meter and a rhyme scheme)

·         Internal rhyme

·         Alliteration and assonance

·         Onomatopoeia

·         Metaphor and simile

·         Poems in first, second, and third person

[Note: These treasure hunts can be adjusted according to age group!]


Let’s get creative! In one jar, place scraps of paper with different kinds of animals written on them. In another jar, place more scraps of paper, some with different colors and some with different styles of pants. Students select a scrap of paper from each of the two containers—no peeking! Once each student has an animal from the first jar and a color or pants style from the second jar, it’s time to write a poem using both topics! That’s right…mash ’em up!


Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw

Suzanne Jacobs Lipshaw is an award-winning nonfiction children’s book author and former elementary special education teacher who is passionate about growing young minds. Suzanne’s first nonfiction picture book, I Campaigned for Ice Cream: A Boy’s Quest for Ice Cream Trucks, debuted in April 2019 from Warren Publishing. Her second book Mighty Mahi launched from Doodle and Peck Publishing in March 2022. Suzanne enjoys speaking to schools about writing, leadership, and how kids can make a difference in our world. The proud momma of two grown boys, Suzanne lives in Waterford, MI with her husband and furry writing companion Ziggy. When she’s not dreaming up new writing projects, you can find her kayaking on the lake, hiking the trail, practicing at the yoga studio, or comparing paint swatches at the local Sherwin Williams.

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