“Chickens aren’t the only ones/there’s no more to discuss-/everyone who lays an egg/is OVIPAROUS!” And of course we all know what “oviparous” means: an animal that procreates by laying eggs (we mammals don’t, except a few in Australia – but that’s another story…).
I remember this because I read Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones about 600 times back in the day. So I can still tell you that “Most snakes lay eggs/and lizards, too/and crocodiles, and turtles do.” To say nothing of octopus (octopi?), butterflies, sharks, spiders, and on and on and on.
Ruth Heller, the wonderful author of Chickens Aren’t the Only Ones, wrote a few dozen books about animals, animal camouflage, plants, seeds, the Sargasso Sea, experimentation with color, parts of speech and the Galápagos Islands. “Galápagos” Means “Tortoises”, by the way – and here’s where the islands are, with some of their fascinating denizens:
An artist herself, Heller loved color – she even told my children what kind of pencils she used, to get the richest, truest colors in her drawings. In her book Color, Color, Color, Color, she explained artistic media, how inks are printed in books, primary and secondary colors, tints, shades, cool colors and warm ones.
The animal camouflage books that she wrote have always been favorites; preschoolers love to find the hidden animals in books such as How to Hide a Crocodile and How to Hide a Butterfly & Other Insects. I imagine it helps that the drawings of the animals are so lovely:
It’s not just animals, though. She wrote another series about parts of speech, starting with collective nouns, which are some of the most entertaining in the language. A rafter of turkeys, a leap of leopards, a sleuth of bears, a cache of jewels, that looks like this: There are several other parts-of-speech books, like Up, Up and Away: A Book About Adverbs and Many Luscious Lollipops: A Book About Adjectives.
Parents may not be consciously aware that their children who can’t read yet are perfectly able to learn words like “oviparous” and “gymnosperm” and “complementary” and “achromatic,” especially when these “difficult” words show up in verse – as is the case with ALL of Ruth Heller’s books. But what could be more fun? Beautiful drawings, accurate science and grammar, rhyme and advanced vocabulary… let’s sit down together and enjoy some colorful words!