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'If students can't learn the way we teach, we must teach the way they learn' (Ignacio Estrada, via Tomlinson)

Book review: Xander’s Panda Party, by Linda Sue Park

Posted by Lisa Hill on September 25, 2013

Xander's Panda PartyDid you see those gorgeous 14 panda cubs in the news this week?  By coincidence, I have a lovely new book starring pandas which has been under the publisher’s embargo – until today!

Newbery medal winner Linda Sue Park has written a  delightful rhyming story about a cute little panda called Xander who wants to throw a party, and since he is the only panda in the zoo, he decides to ask all the other bears.  He sends an invitation to the black bear, the brown bear, the two polar bears, and the grizzly.  But when the guest list extends to the koala, she objects – because as every Aussie school kid knows, koalas are not bears, they are marsupials.

From her tree, Koala uttered, ‘Xander, I am not a bear.’
Xander didn’t understand her.  ‘Koala Bear, you’re not a bear?’ He stared at her in consternation.
‘Sorry for the complication.  I know I’m called Koala Bear, but I am not a bear, I swear.  I am a marsupial.  Marsupials – we’re rather rare. Will I not be welcome there?’

Xander nibbles away on some bamboo and comes up with a solution:

‘Fur or hair or hide can come.  All the mammals, every one!’

But then of course there are other taxonomies excluded, and in the end Xander invites all creatures – no matter what they are, and he is rewarded by the arrival of a dear little panda called Zhu.

It’s a lovely story, the full-colour illustrations by Matt Phelan are delightful, and it’s a perfect fit for primary teachers introducing Biological Science at Year 3:

Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things (ACSSU044)

There is also a loose association with the cross-curriculum priority Asia and Australia’s Engagement with Asia because the book can be a launchpad for finding out more about China and its wildlife.

Pandas are so adorable, I can’t resist sharing this enchanting video from the San Diego zoo.

Author: Linda Sue Park
Title: Xander’s Panda Party
Illustrated by Matt Phelan
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press), 2013
ISBN: 9780702249983 (hbk).
Source: Review copy courtesy of UQP


Fishpond: Xander’s Panda Party

Or direct from UQP.

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