Thursday, November 19, 2015

Learning from Picture Books: MEERKAT MAIL

Even though I mostly review recent picture books, when I saw this in the library I had to pick it up, fondly remembering visits to the meerkat exhibit at the zoo.  And then I discovered it contained postcards! A lot of fun.

Summary from
Stay safe, stay together!

Sunny the meerkat lives with his enormous family in the Kalahari desert. They are all very close . . . so close, in fact, that one day Sunny decides he's had enough and packs his bags. He's off to visit his mongoose cousins. But from the watery world of the Marsh Mongoose to the nocturnal lifestyle of the Malagasy Mongoose, Sunny just doesn't fit in. And who's that shadowy figure who seems to be following him around?

Meerkat Mail was written and illustrated by Emily Gravett. It was published by Macmillan Children’s Books in 2006.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

The cover is so intriguing, since it looks like a paper-wrapped parcel. The endpages are covered with meerkat family photos and news clippings. And I love the line and gesture in the meerkats.

As for the writing, it’s a fun concept to have Sunny leaving home and sending postcards back from really interesting places. It would’ve been even more fun if there was more information about the different animals he visited to add another element for learning, but I enjoyed reading his messages to his family.  

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

This book is useful for so many things! It’s a good introduction to the idea of postcards and kids will love lifting the flaps. It’s also a great lead in to discussion about different kinds of families and homes and their differences (and maybe similarities). This would also be nice to pair with some non-fiction texts about meerkats and to talk about habitats.  

Themes: nature, family, mail,
Ages: 4 – 8
Grades: preschool – grade 3
Follow-Up Activities:
  • Research a place you’d like to visit and write a postcard!
  • Find out more about meerkats and their habitats. Where do they live? What do they eat?
  • Discuss: Would you ever want to leave home? Why or why not?
  • Write a story or draw a picture about setting off on an adventure. What would you bring?

To find more great picture books to read or to use in your classroom, visit author Susanna Leonard Hill's website for her theme-based summary of Perfect Picture Books posted by book-loving bloggers on Perfect Picture Book Friday.


  1. Love, love, love it. I recently discovered Emily's books, but haven't heard of this one yet. Thanks for the review!

  2. Oh, I love your choice! I don't know about meerkats. I love the idea of kids learning about post cards. We live in such a technological world, postcards are diminishing. On a recent trip I made sure to send our great granddaughter a colorful post card. Great activities.

  3. I love that cover too :) What a wonderful way to introduce children to the idea of sending a postcard :)

  4. Meerkats are so much fun to watch! Meerkat Mail captures their curious spirit in a super fun format. Great PB! Thanks for sharing!

  5. I was wondering about post cards recently. Haven't seen one in ages (guess I'm not traveling enough!). I will check this book out.

  6. Great book for reintroducing the idea of writing to our friends!

  7. This looks like such fun! I love post cards... and who can resist meerkats?

  8. This reminds me of my son's obsession with the postcard kiosks in London years ago. He pretty much ignored the actual places, and dragged us on to the next batch of shiny postcards. And he still has them 20 years later! Thanks for the review!

  9. I've been a fan of Emily Gravett since I read WOLVES and SPELLS. But I haven't read this one yet. Such a clever format.

    I still send postcards when I travel.


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