Wednesday, January 07, 2015

NF Book Challenge #1: When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses

I have been trying to keep up with good nonfiction for kids. So this year, I decided to try to participate in Alyson Beecher's Nonfiction Challenge. I certainly won't be able to read the number of NF books that she does, but my hope is 52 nonfiction books or one each week in 2015.

This week, after seeing it on the CYBILS Finalists for NF list, I decided it was time I read WHEN LUNCH FIGHTS BACK. I've seen lots of buzz about this book but hadn't sat down to read it.  And I'm glad I did.

The book is longer and more intense than I anticipated.  I think grades 4-7 are probably about right for it. It seems like a good match for readers who love the Scientist in the Field series.  There is lots to like about this book.   First of all, the premise of animal defenses is a good one and this one frames it in a unique way. Each chapter focuses on a way that an animal might defend itself. Then it goes into a story about an animal being attacked and using that defense. Following the story and photos, there is a section for each that gives us "The Science Behind the Story" and explains what is happening.  In most of these segments, there are quotes from or information about a scientist who studies the particular animal.   I love the combination of these components.

As I was reading, I realized what a great writing mentor this could be. There are different types of informational writing in each section and that comparison would make for an interesting mini lesson. The language and craft of the actual stories of animal defense are incredible and writers can learn lots from studying these short pieces of text.

In my quest to know more nonfiction authors, I realized I didn't recognize the author' name--Rebecca L. Johnson. But when I checked out her website, I realized that I do know some of her work and it is fabulous. She definitely writes for an older elementary/middle school audience. I will definitely keep my eye on her books from now on.


  1. Like you, I've seen lots of buzz about this book. However, you went one step further and read it! ;-) Now I need to - you make it sound like a must read.

  2. I love the title of this one. Every time I see it, I smile - and I have seen it many times with positive reviews. Like Holly, I need to get to it. :)

  3. I've been meaning to find this title in our library to feature for our current CYBILS reading theme. Glad to read your review. :)

  4. I know Alyson raves about this one. Need to read it too!

  5. Yes I do love this one. I talk about it all the time. :-) Glad you enjoyed it Franki and love having you on board for the challenge.

  6. I really liked this book, too!


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