Authors: Lana Wayne Koehler and Gloria G. Adams
Illustrator: Ken Min
Published: March 1, 2016 by Sterling Books
Goodreads Summary: When hunting for his new best friend, a boy goes through an alphabetical menagerie of animals. From an antelope, to bobolink birds, to wolves and zebras—and of course, a cat and dog, too—he brings them all home. But each creature just makes his sister go AH-CHOO! Will he ever be able to have the perfect pet?
Ricki’s Review: Kellee and I videochatted and read this book together to our boys. It was so fun! This is a book that would make for an excellent read-aloud. I can imagine a whole classroom of kids yelling “ah-choo!” in a fit of giggles. Teachers will find much to talk about with the book–the alphabetical animals, the fact that not all families can have furry/fuzzy pets, the rhyme scheme, the illustrations, the variety across pages, etc. I can even see this book in older classrooms as a guide for students embarking on creative writing. It would be quite inspirational. The illustrations are hysterical, and it is very clear that a lot of work and effort went into making this text as successful as it is.
Kellee’s Review: I love books that have repeating pages yet aren’t repeating all the way through because it allows young readers to be a part of the read aloud while the text is still unique and interesting. This book fits into that category. Kids will love yelling AH CHOO! along with the boy’s sister which will make this such a fun class read aloud. I also loved the variety of animals that were featured in the book. Since the boy goes from A to Z with the animals he chooses, the author had to be quite clever to find animals that rhymed and fit the order. All this fun in addition to the funny illustrations make for one fun-to-read book.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might ask students to create their own Ah-Choo! books with different animals. It would be fun to see how many animals the students would come up with! As an alternative, kids might think of their own themed text. Students can start with a problem (e.g. not being able to get an animal because a sibling is allergic) and come up with 26 A to Z alternatives!
I asked my mom if I could have
a pet, or even two.
But every time I brought one home,
my sister went
Discussion Questions: How do the authors provide variety in this text? How do they use creative elements successfully to draw in the reader? How does the illustrator appeal to readers?; While this book has humor, what more serious themes does it convey?; How can you reimagine this book with your own problem as the theme?
Read This If You Loved: The Alphabet of Bugs: An ABC Book by Valerie Gates; Which Pet Should I Get? by Dr. Seuss; Alphabet Books
“A Multi-layered Book Can be a Teaching Tool”
by Gloria G. Adams, co-author, Ah-Choo!
When Lana Koehler and I collaborated on our book Ah-Choo!, we knew we wanted it to be told in rhyme and also to be about allergies. But between the two of us and our wonderful critique group members, we ended up with a book that not only had rhyme and addressed pet allergies, but our interactive read-aloud also offers the alphabet, math, repetition, sibling relationships, rich vocabulary, and even includes a few trips to the zoo!
All of these layers add up to a multi-tiered package that can serve as a teaching tool for young children.
Kids often feel like they are the only ones suffering from allergies. Ah-Choo! is a great vehicle for teaching kids not only more about their allergies, but also the fact that they are not alone and there are many other kids who have the same problem.
Allergies to pets always wreak havoc in households, especially those with children who have siblings who are NOT allergic. In Ah-Choo!, our young protagonist cares so much about his sister that he brings an entire alphabet of animals for her to “test out” in hope of finding one that won’t make her sick. This story can be a great starting point to talk with your children about compromise and empathy; we think our young man is a great role model!
The rhyme and repetition serve as very important pre-reading skills. One is phonemic awareness, which helps break words down into smaller parts. According to one educator, “Repetition and rhyme give way to rhythm, recognition and memorization-all of which can have a huge impact on children learning to read.”
You can use Ah-Choo! in different ways to help your child practice rhyming even more.
- Find all the words in the book that rhyme with Ah-Choo.
- Search for other words that rhyme, such as “hen” and “then” or “Jack” and “back.”
- Have your child choose a name for an animal, then think of a rhyming name. For example, maybe your child names the cat “Sammy.” Other names that rhyme with Sammy are Hammy, Jammy, Lammy, etc.
Building your child’s vocabulary can be an important factor in how well he or she does when school begins. In the pages of Ah-Choo!, you will find not only unusual animals names (Takin, Yaffle, Bobolink), but also longer words, such as “feathered” and “snuggled.” According to read-aloud guru, Jim Trelease, “It’s long established in science and research: the child who comes to school with a large vocabulary does better than the child who comes to school with little familiarity with words and a low vocabulary.”
Using Ah-Choo! is a fun way to teach the alphabet. It can also help with counting; just how many Umbrellabirds ARE there? Are there more than 26 animals? Yes, there are! Our illustrator, Ken Min, even added a surprise animal that isn’t found in the text! Subtract the animals as the brother takes them away when they make his sister sneeze.
A visit to the zoo is always educational. Take along your copy of Ah-Choo! and see how many animals your children can find that are in the book.
Best of all, Ah-Choo! is interactive; children love the repetition of the sneezing. It will make them want to hear it again and again and again…
**Thank you to Ardi at Sterling Books for providing copies for review! And thank you to Gloria for her wonderfully insightful guest post!**