Saturday, July 7, 2012

Book #189: Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

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This wordless book follows the escapades of a sneaky walrus that escapes from the zoo and leads the mustachioed zookeeper on a merry chase across town. The walrus is a master of disguise and he manages to elude the zookeeper by dressing as a construction worker, dancer, painter, and even a fire fighter. The zookeeper finally catches up with walrus at a diving competition, which the walrus wins.

The digital illustrations use large, flat areas of solid color to create a stylistic, representational world. Savage is a master at economy; even the most complex characters and scenes are deftly reduced to the smallest number of shapes and lines. The result are clean, sharp illustrations that bring to mind the hustle and bustle of the post-war 1950's. The story is simple and clearly conveyed in the pictures. Savage manipulates the simple shapes and lines to create expressions of surprise, happiness, and even a mischevious twinkle in the walrus’ eyes.

After you turn each page, ask the kids, “Where’s walrus?” and then have them help you describe the scene and the actions taking place on the page. At the end of the book, ask the kids if they think the walrus will escape again. If so, where will he/she go?

If you use this book with elementary school aged kids have them follow up by writing their own narrative for the story. Encourage them to add dialogue as well. Or have the group create the further adventures of the walrus by creating wordless illustrations.

Use this book with Dear Zoo, Hippo! No Rhino!, My Heart is Like a Zoo, or A Sick Day for Amos McGee for a zoo storytime. This book is best for a small group because you want the kids to be able to see the illustrations well enough to find the walrus. However, if you want to share this book with a larger group, check out the flannelboard featured on the Flannel Friday blog.

This book can also be used for a walrus themed storytime. National Geographic Kids has wonderful color photos and facts about walruses. Try this easy paper plate walrus craft. Paint the plates gray instead of brown to make the walrus look more like the one in the book. Play Where’s Walrus in the library. Cut out walruses from construction paper and hide them around the library for a scavenger hunt.

Check out the whimsical book trailer that features not only the walrus, but Savage, too!


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