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Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails: Patterns & Shapes . . . Naturally

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  123 ratings  ·  37 reviews
Come explore the hidden shapes and patterns in nature. The peacock's flashy tail is a masterpiece of color and shape. A buzzing beehive is built of tiny hexagons. Even a snake's skin is patterned with diamonds.
Poet Betsy Franco and Caldecott Honor winner Steve Jenkins bring geometry to life in this lively, lyrical look at the shapes and patterns that can be found in the
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published August 26th 2008 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 176)
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Paige Freeman
I thought this book was a fantastic combination of poetry, mathematics, and facts about animals of all shapes and sizes. On each page there was a beautiful picture with nonfiction information in poetic form creatively written on each page. There is one poem that really stands out in my mind when I try to describe this book and it is the one about the puffer fish at the end of the book. The author has two pictures of a puffer fish, one that it is deflated, and another that is all puffed up like a ...more
Aaron Siclovan
In this book which is written in poetry form, the author stresses patterns, shapes, and color. In nature, there is a lot of geometry in shapes. The worker bees create thousands of hexagons to make their honeycombs. The worker bees pass their mathematical knowledge to other worker bees. The eyes of moths are perfectly matched on both sides of their bodies and the moths use their wings to form many shapes of their bodies. Spider webs are a true work of art. The spiders first spin the the frame wor ...more
Cynnea Schreibman
Franco, B., & Jenkins, S. (2008). Bees, snails, & peacock tails: Patterns & shapes-- naturally. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Bees, snails, & peacock tails shows the hidden patterns in nature. It doesn’t only show amazing pictures, this book describes the beauty of the bee, peacock, snail, and other animals. The bee, peacock, and snail are highlights of the book by providing concrete and lyrical poetry explaining their shape and habits.
Critique: I loved the different col
With vibrant illustrations and simple poems, animal patterns and shapes are highlighted in this collection of poetry. "...Creatures on land, in the air, in the sea/ make patterns and shapes/ quite naturally." The text includes a very short blurb about each animal and distills the math connection.

Recommended for students in kindergarten through grade 2. This book probably fits better with a math class than in a poetry unit, though obviously it can be used their as well.
Alisha Funkhouser
Franco, B., & Jenkins, S. (2008). Bees, snails, & peacock tails: Patterns & shapes-- naturally. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

School Library Journal Review

Concept Book

I really enjoyed this book. In my opinion, there are almost two concepts to this book. It could be used as a book to learn about shapes and patterns, but it also teaches about different animals and their habits or behaviors. The illustrations are actually collages and they almost seem real or real as in they loo
Bees, snails, & peacock tails shows the hidden patterns in nature. It doesn’t only show amazing pictures, this book describes the beauty of the bee, peacock, snail, and other animals. This book highlights the characteristics of these animals by using concrete and lyrical poetry to visually show their shape. The poems explain their habits and other aspects of each animal. I loved the different colors in this book, I think they add to the overall experience for the reader. I am a sucker for co ...more
Ally Irwin
Franco, B., & Jenkins, S. (2008). Bees, snails, & peacock tails: Patterns & shapes-- naturally. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Bees, snails, & peacock tails shows the hidden patterns in nature. It doesn’t only show amazing pictures, this book describes the beauty of the bee, peacock, snail, and other animals. The bee, peacock, and snail are highlights of the book by providing concrete and lyrical poetry explaining their shape and habits. I loved the different colors in thi
This is actually a poetry book, but I think it can work well in conjunction with another book about patterns and shapes in animals. Although the poems do not give any explanations about the pattern, such as geese flying in a v to slice through the air, end pages add more information about each of the animal patterns. Under migrating birds these pages mention how the shape gives lift to the birds behind and why they take turns being leader. The collage illustrations are large making it easier to ...more
What's the logical extension of this book's premise? Of course basic patterns and shapes are evident in nature. There's no hidden deeper mystery, as implied in the text. Does the author have animal skins and bodies splayed up on a wall, pins and strings hung between them like a cracked genius puzzling through a conspiracy theory? The slippery slope from snail shells to endless painted spirals on walls is short. Betsy Franco should avoid becoming Eddie Walenski.
Emily Smith
The second book I chose to review is Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails by Betsy Franco. This poetry book is all about animals and all of the different shapes and patterns they make. She writes about how bees are smart because their beehives are made of hexagons and they all fit perfectly side by side and that the male peacocks are the colorful ones who attract the plain females with their beautiful tail feathers. I had no idea that geese and swans travel in a V shaped formation because it helps ...more
Karen Bragg
This poem shows children how animals naturally use shapes and patterns for a variety of reasons. Bees construct their honeycombs in a hexagon shape so they fit together nicely and to make them strong. Moths have symmetrical wings with an "eye" on each. Spiderwebs contain several geometric shapes. Migrating birds fly in a "V" formation, and ants march in a line. Some snakes have diamond or triangle shape on their backs, and puffer fish, when puffed up, are spherical. All of these shapes a
Ruth Ann
Rhyming text and colorful collage make this exploration of patterns in nature impossible to put down. Readers will want to revisit it too . . . probably as soon as they reach the end!

The author, Betsy Franco, is a poet and the illustrator, Steve Jenkins, is well-known for his science books, especially those about animals.
With bright illustrations and rhyming prose Franco points out the mathematical patterns that can be seen in nature.

rhyming for language acquisition, mathematical concepts, vocabulary - word choice is great
Maggi Idzikowski
Patterns are always interesting to kids. Math plus nature plus poetry equals infinite teaching possibilities. Symmetry, shapes, footprints, migration patterns. Perfect for K-1.
Grades Pre-K through 3

Franco and Jenkins collaborated to create a wonderful exploration of patterns in nature. The collection of poems can be appreciated at many levels: it can be read from beginning to end, poems can be read and appreciated on their own, children can find patterns in the bold cut-paper images, and each animal can inspire further investigation-the goal of any good informational book. The book ends with more information about each of the animals. One perplexing addition to the co
Exploring patterns and shapes, this book highlights the wonder of nature through the efficient hexagonal structure of beehives, the symmetry of a moth's wings, the wedge-shaped pattern of geese in flight, the pattern of a mouse's footprints in the snow, and other examples. The masterful collage illustrations make it a worthwhile read. However, while the explanations contribute to a child's artistic and mathematical knowledge as well as appreciation for nature, the contrived nature of the rhyming ...more
Nov 26, 2008 Rebecca rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: K and up; Carol Vernon
Gorgeous book illustrated with the crisp, textured paper collages of Steve Jenkins ("What Do You Do With A Tail Like This?"), with Betsy Franco's verses highlighting some of the pattern and geometry found in nature (peacock tails, migrating birds, sea stars). This book is cataloged in poetry, where it won't be found by those browsing animals or geometry, but the language geek in me likes that rhyming text is a sort of geometry in itself. The text/picture layout is simple and creative, and there ...more
My four-year-old son picked this book out from the library this week.

I love, love, love the artwork in this book. I love, love, love the mathematical references in this book. But I only like, like, like the book itself -- it was the poetry that made me fall out of love.

I really do not like forced, cobbled poetry. This book starts out just fine and avoids that trap, until about halfway through. The lines became too long, the meter became jagged, and the rhyme became forced. All the joy was gone
Feb 14, 2011 Lynn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Preschool & Toddlers
Every now and then when you let your child select a (random) book off the library shelf by himself, he comes up with a gem. Unfortunately, my 5 yr old son did not find this book to be a gem for him. According to him, it was "too babyish," so he gives it only 1 star. As a parent though, I found this book to have enjoyable colorful pictures and enjoyable rhyme pattern to it. Also, it does a good job of teaching patterns and shapes for younger children. Therefore, I give it 3 stars.
Mary Ann
This poetry picture book about patterns in nature brought delight to my children, through its vibrant pictures, and the engaging poetry and the fascinating concepts. Franco and Jenkins explore the many forms and functions of nature’s geometry. They show the mathematical genius of the bee, as it fits hexagons side by side in its honeycomb. They light up our eyes with the symmetry of the moth, showing the "stunning 'eyes', perfectly matched on either side."
This book is great to use for any grade level when learning about shapes and patterns. The book includes real life examples which makes it relatable for kids. The illustrations are very bold and creative and definitely make the book an interesting read for the reader. The text in the book is also very descriptive which helps readers thoroughly understand shapes and patterns in nature and the environment.
Kelly Whelchel
Science Grade K/ 1st Poetry Topic: Animals

Teaching about animals on earth. Also can tie in math.

Great to use when talking lines of symmetry, lines, patterns and shapes. Use the book and take a different animal each day. Have the student learn about the shape or description of each animal and have the student each draw there own animal using the description.
I loved the illustrations in this poetry book. I teach second grade and this would be a nice read aloud for introducing patterns and shapes. It could also be used to discuss rhyming. It has some great vocabulary, compound words, and multi-syllable words. Not to mention some great facts about the creatures discussed in the book.
I love the art work in this book but feel the text would be a bit above the typical picture book audience. I'm surprised this is not in non-fiction due to the heavy leaning toward concepts.
One of my favorites of the type that aim to teach as well as entertain. Readers come away with new knowledge about the patterns and shapes that are prevalent in the natural world.
These books are never going to get old. In such an understandable format that it will always catch a childs interest. I love this like I have everything with Franco and Jenkins. Ages 4+
Jun 11, 2012 Jen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: pb
Clever photos. a little bit of a stretch with one or two of the shapes. I would maybe like to buy this one some day.
Love when a beautifully illustrated picture book includes some little factoids to turn it into a learning experience
Mock Caldecott. Artistically drawn images and lyrical writing illustrate various dynamics in nature.
Poetry, science, and math in one picture book. Awesomeness! Recommended for ages 6 and up.
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Betsy Franco has published more than eighty books, including three previous anthologies. She lives in Palo Alto, California.
More about Betsy Franco...
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