Author: Leo Lionni
Illustrator: Leo Lionni
Publisher and year: Harper Collins Publishers, 1960
Number of pages: 27 pages
Tags/Themes: Colleen Swanson, Award Book, Animals, Science, Math, Measurement, Survival
Descriptive Annotation: In this award winning Caldecott Honor book an inchworm measures different parts of birds. He measures a robin’s tail, a flamingo’s neck, a toucan’s beak, a heron’s leg, the tail of a pheasant, and the body of a hummingbird. Then the inchworm meets a nightingale who asks the inchworm to measure his song. The nightingale tells the inchworm that he cannot do this then he will eat the inchworm. The inchworm says he can only measure things but he agrees to try to measure the song. The nightingale begins to sing and the inchworm inches and inches until he is no longer in sight. The inchworm in fact was not measuring the nightingale’s song but rather inching away so the nightingale would not eat him when he concluded his song. The text in this story is simple and with very few words on each page. The focus of each page is the large but simple illustrations. These images are collages of different textured and patterned paper forming the animals and plant life in the story. There is no prior knowledge needed to understand this book other than that birds normally eat inchworms as food.
Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: In this story there is no apparent cultural or linguistic diversity. There is however diversity among the animals present in the story such as many different types of birds and the inchworm. In addition, it is interesting that in this story all the animals talk in English. The inchworm is especially peculiar because he talks throughout the book however he has no mouth in any illustration within the text.
Interdisciplinary Connections: This book can easily be integrated within many subjects in the elementary grades. For instance, this text can be used in a Science class discussing different types of birds and looking at what they eat, such as inchworms and insects, as well as what their appearance is. The illustrations in the text bring to life each of the birds and depict these birds very close to their actual appearance in the real wildlife. This text can also be used in a Math class when students are learning about measurement and units of measure. Students may do activities along with this book in which they measure object using the inchworm as a unit of measure.
Other Information: This text was a very entertaining quick read. You do not learn until the end of the story how clever the inchworm really is in his quest for survival in the world. The reader realizes at the conclusion of the story that he measures all of these different birds in order to stay alive. This text is best suited for the lower elementary grades based on the text difficulty and content. I especially see students who are interested in animals and insects enjoying this text. After reading this book, I may challenge students to measure different classroom objects using the inchworm as a unit of measure.