Friday, April 6, 2018

PPBF: Once Upon A Jungle

Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick

Once Upon A Jungle, by Laura Knowles and James Boast
Once Upon A Jungle

Written by Laura Knowles 
Illustrated by James Boast

FireflyPress, 2017
Ages 5-8, 32 pp

Food Chain, Environment, Animals

Once upon a time, there lived a jungle.

In simple picture book style, the text of Once Upon a Jungle leads young readers through the food chain, beginning with ants and ending with decomposing animals. It may seem gruesome, but the subject is handled beautifully and expertly. A great introduction to the concept of the life cycle and the connections between all living things. Minimal back matter and stunning illustration make this an absolute must for home or school.
I fear this title will be overlooked or mislabeled (as it is in my library.)

What I Love:
The text is clever because it reduces a complex educational concept down to a simple, rhythmic format kids can relate to. Although the details of the food chain are presented in their most basic form, very young readers will catch the idea. The author has used spare yet playful text. The colorful graphic style will catch readers of all ages. Viewing the illustrator's skills at using positive and negative space is almost like finding hidden pictures. One double fold-out may make this less feasible for the library, but I hope that won't stop librarians from stocking a copy. Lovely from cover to cover.

This book was a finalist for the CYBILS Award.*
Hatching Chicks in Room 6 won the award in this category. You can read my review here.

Kids can be part of the food chain
with this clever version of "ants on a log"
1. Pre-schoolers can craft an ant, a snake, and a flock of paper birds for their classroom jungle.

2. Kids can create a literal paper chain of animals to reinforce the book's concepts or offers a worksheet for little ones.

3. Please check out No Monkeys, No Chocolate, by Melissa Stewart, Allen Young, and Nicole Wong. I think it's a perfect pairing with Once Upon a Jungle, but for slightly older readers.

4. I end up reviewing a lot of science books for the very young. Here are some of my favorites.

Best in Snow,
by April Pulley Sayre
Winter Trees,
by Carole Gerber and Leslie Evans

Glow, by W. H. Beck,
Mark Laita, and others
Plants Can't Sit Still,
by Rebecca Hirsch and Mia Posada
5. Fellow PPBF member Sue Heavenrich reviews lots of interesting environmental books for this age group on her blog, Archimedes Notebook. Here are two I enjoyed.

There's a Bug on My Book
Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter

6. And as always, a few offerings from the Perfect Picture Book Friday crew.

Some Bugs
Reviewed by Julie
A Troop is a Group of Monkeys
Reviewed by Stacy

Have you reviewed a Perfect Picture Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday
for Friday, April 6, 2018 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's blog.

*As a CYBILS second round judge, I was expected to read and review this book honestly.


  1. Joanne, what a great find! I haven't seen this one, but it looks amazing.

    1. That's another great thing about the CYBILS Awards: they increase my TBR stack a hundredfold...Wait, did I say that was a good thing?

  2. Your ants on a log idea is amazing! Love it! I reviewed this book a while back. The illustrations are stunning. Thanks for this recommendation!

    1. Thanks. I searched your blog, but couldn't find it. You can leave the link to your review in a reply to this post. Thanks.

  3. Yum, love your ants on a log! I love books that take a fairly complex topic and present it in a way completely comprehensible to young kids. Great choice.

  4. I must admit that the idea of including decomposing animals into a picture book seemed, well... gruesome, as you say above, but this is a natural part of the food chain and of life. I'm definitely going to check out this book.

    1. I was stunned by its beauty and simplicity. 'Hope you are too. Thank-you.

  5. Such a beautiful cover -- it really draws you to the book. It sounds like the jungle is a character in itself. Never to early to teach children about life cycles and the food chain.

    1. I thought the non-fiction approach was clever. Thanks.


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