Thursday, November 23, 2017

Learning from Picture Books – LIFE by Cynthia Rylant & Brendan Wenzel

A thought-provoking look at our planet with lovely, detailed illustrations.

Summary from the publisher:

There are so many wonderful things about life, both in good times and in times of struggle. Through the eyes of the world’s animals—including elephants, monkeys, whales, and more…

Life was written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. It was published in 2017 by Beach Lane Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.


Life begins small.
Even for the elephants.
Then it grows.

My Thoughts as a Writer:

This is a quiet book with slight touches of humor. It’s an interesting example of a circular text that begins and ends the same way. The illustrations show the diversity of life on our planet with muted tones and lots of detail.

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

This is definitely a book for a quieter moment. For me, it generated lots of wonderings and thoughts about appreciating the smaller things in life, the diversity of life on our planet and what it needs to survive, and being hopeful when struggling with challenges. The text has many different interpretations and will work for several different age groups.

Ages: 4 - 12

Grades: PreK and up

Themes: diversity, appreciation of the earth, perseverance through challenges


Choose your favourite animal. What would this animal love about life? Create a piece of art and write your message as a caption.

Take a picture of something small in nature. What could it grow into or become? Draw your idea. 

NOTE: This title has been nominated for the Cybils Award, and I am a first round panelist. There are many nominations and six other judges. My opinions should not be construed as a sign of inclusion or exclusion on the final short list.


  1. Anything written by Cynthia Rylant is worth reading. I'll be checking this out!

  2. Wow! What a great opening. I can't wait to read this.


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