Fiction or Non-Fiction?

We recently spent a day with some Kindergarteners who were trying to make sense of this conundrum. What makes a story FICTION or NON-FICTION? What do those words mean? Real or not real. But shouldn’t NOT real be connected with NON-Fiction? What makes a story real or not real? Say, a story is about Biscuit the dog getting into trouble. Dogs are real. Biscuit looks real. The kids in the story are doing real things. Isn’t it a real story? What does imagination mean? Such big riddles!

We read two books that day.

mad about chicksMad About Chicks Lambs and other Farm Animals


It was created by Sarah Creese and Believe Ideas Ltd. in 2009.

This book has lots of fun FACTS about various farm animals. Did you know that a bunch of geese is called a GAGGLE? Did you know that sheep can smell things through their feet? And that in Australia there are more sheep than people?! Did you know that cows can chew on their food for up to 8 hours a day?! I think that’s a whole day!! I can’t make my food last more than a minute! Did you know that pigs can be trained like dogs?! I have a hard time believing that one. I’d like to see a pig doing weave poles!! HA!!

This was a fun book with bright colored photos of real animals and big bold text to read. Much of it was more than those kindergarteners could grasp though. We still managed to have a lively discussion about the differences between farm animals and other animals. And they learned new words like male and female and gaggle.

After all the fun with the NON-FICTION book with REAL facts, we tried a FICTION book –

by Margie Palatini
illustrated by Henry Cole
published by Scholastic in 1997

The kids thought that this was going to be a NON-FICTION REAL book because moose are REAL animals. They knew that they were not farm animals, but they ARE REAL. But REAL moose don’t have mustaches!!! OH!!!  They liked this book much better than the farm animal book. It is a hilarious book!!

IMG_5000Moose had a BIG problem! “A horrible, hairy, prickly problem.” Right below his nose. A MOOSTACHE! This moostache is extremely long and flowing and gets in the way of everything that Moose tries to do! And he can not tame it! This was a fun read-aloud. Lots of alliteration and rhyme. And crazy illustrations. In the end, Moose meets a FEMALE moose with a bodacious bouffant who knows how to deal with long flowing hair. She fixes his moostache with lots of glue, they fall in love and get married. The kids thought that was all pretty silly.

And now I have found a REAL video of a pig doing weave poles!!! I don’t know if this is FICTION or NON-FICTION. I see it with my eyes, but my brain is having a hard time believing it!

I hope that you know FICTION from NON-FICTION! And I wish you a REALLY JOYous week!!!
Your friend who occasionally does weave poles,
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This Moose Belongs to Me

We are big Oliver Jeffers fans at this house. His books are so clever and simple and funny. His artwork cracks me up. Today we read This Moose Belongs to Me to some 1st graders. It cracked them up too!


The book was published by Philomel Books in 2012.
It is suitable for K and up.
Themes would be pets and wildlife.

The book begins with “Wilfred owned a moose.”

This is the story of a boy, Wilfred, who thinks that he owns a moose that he names Marcel.


He has a big list of rules for pets and tells us that Marcel obeys some of the rules. Like Rule 4 which is: “Not making too much noise while Wilfred plays his record collection.” (Surprisingly, some of the kids knew what a record collection was!) Some rules he ignored. Like Rule 7: Going whichever way Wilfred wants to go.”  And Rule 7 (subsection b): Maintaining a certain proximity to home.” ( big word alert! – PROXIMITY) Basically, Marcel tended to go wherever there were apples. And that led them to a “terrible discovery …..” A little purple haired lady who thought SHE owned the moose and called him Rodrigo! Wilfred was enraged! And stormed off to home.


But in his haste – (another good word!) he got into a bad fix and was eventually rescued by the moose. Rule 73 for a good pet — “rescuing your owner from Perilous Situations! (more good words!) And then Wilfred admitted that he had never really owned the moose anyway. A good end!

While reading this book with the kids we talked about visualization and plot. Those were the things that they had been studying in class. We also talked about pets versus wildlife. What exactly makes an animal a pet? And why is it not a good idea to try to keep wildlife as pets? We talked about moose and what kind of animal they were and where they live. Mr Jeffers backgrounds for this book were quite special. I have heard that he didn’t actually paint them – they were found artwork from trashbins and books. And he had to find the original artists to be able to use them. Pretty clever!  In class we came up with some of our own rules for a good pet. Things like not going to the bathroom in the house and not jumping on furniture and not running away.

This is a fabulous book. The kids all gave it thumbs up and I give it 4 paws!

Some websites you might want to check out for classroom discussion and activities :

Defenders of Wildlife has lots of information about wildlife conservation.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game has some information on wildlife viewing and safety.
With The World Wildlife Fund, you can adopt a moose!
And for little ones here’s a really cute moose puppet made from a paper bag!

For Oliver Jeffers fans, I give you a couple of videos:
The 1st one is How to Draw a Moose
The next one is a rather long presentation from OFFSET with Mr Jeffers talking about his art and book making process. Very Good!

Now you might want to jump over to Susanna Hill’s blog for some more great picture books with activitie to go with. It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday!!  Check ’em out!