The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that!

Nanuq: A Baby Polar Bear's Story / Korow: A Baby Chimpanzee's Story Review by Stacy Kalisz

By Kathleen Duey
Ideals Publications, A Guideposts Company
535 Metroplex Drive, Suite 250
Nashville, TN 37211

Nanuq: A Baby Polar Bear's Story and Korow: A Baby Chimpanzee's Story are both part of the My Animal Family series distributed by Ideals Publications. Each hardcover book features a 31-page, researched-based story written from the baby animal's point of view. They are also accompanied by a companion DVD containing award-winning BBC footage of the animals in their native habitat. A secret pass code is included, allowing children to access the interactive My Animal Family website ( to enjoy educational games and activities, such as dot-to-dot, painting, and matching games.

Each story presents many facts; but because of the narrative format, the facts are easily absorbed. Attractive and realistic illustrations grace every page, captivating the reader.

Nanuq: A Baby Polar Bear's Story follows a young cub, Nanuq, and his brother, Suka, as their mother teaches them how to survive in a snowy habitat. In this book, children will see the polar bears swimming in the water, trekking through the ice, scenting the air, wrestling, eating, and having a scary encounter with a walrus. They will learn about the daily lives of polar bears and what it takes for the bears to live in such a cold climate.

Korow: A Baby Chimpanzee's Story is set in the plains of East Africa. Korow is growing up and learning how to be a part of a community of chimpanzees--how to climb trees, deal with siblings, look for food, and, most of all, play! Children observe what it is like to be a chimpanzee while enjoying the story from Korow's perspective.

The DVDs are packed with information and include a narrative from the baby animal's perspective, similar to the book. A child's voice narrates this, while footage of real animals in their native habitat is played. Fun facts and an original song are also included on each DVD.

When used together, the book, DVD, and website give children a good understanding of the specific animal being discussed. Designed for pre-readers and readers alike, these books are intended for children 3 to 9 years of age.

In our home, we enjoyed reading a book and then watching the DVD immediately after. My children are 4 and 7 years of age, and both found them fun and interesting. Of course, the DVD does not need to be watched immediately; book reading and DVD watching could easily be done on separate occasions. You could use the materials as a supplement when studying these specific animals. They would even be nice gifts for children who like polar bears or chimpanzees, or just animals in general.

I have to admit, it took me a while to get used to the animal telling the tale. I couldn't help but wonder how the writers knew a baby polar bear thought in such a way! And once I caught myself gasping because the baby chimpanzee disobeyed his mother and she didn't do anything about it. But then I settled down and remembered that these are animals and this is an educational tool. My children thoroughly enjoyed both books and the accompanying DVDs. They also learned a lot and can now spout off a few fun facts about polar bears and chimpanzees.

Although we found the books and DVDs very enjoyable, I was not overly impressed with the website. My daughter thought it was great, but I felt it lacked substance. I do like the fact that it is a safe online environment and that many of the games can be played by young children. Still, it could use more information and educational activities specific to the animals in the books.

All in all, our experience with the My Animal Family series has been a good one. My children were learning without even knowing it! I recommend these books for any animal-loving child.

Product review by Stacy Kalisz, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009