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Welcome Winter with Wait, Rest, Pause

Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature

By Marcie Flinchum Atkins

Published in 2020 by Millbrook Press

ISBN 978-1-5415-6192-2

PK – Grade 4

Book Review

How do animals and plants survive weather extremes like cold, heat, and drought? The concept of dormancy and variations of this biological process, which include diapause, hibernation, torpor, brumation, and estivation, are the subject of an engaging work of expository nonfiction by Marcie Flinchum Atkins. Employing a patterned text, figurative language, and series of lively verbs, Flinchum compares and contrasts different forms of dormancy in mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and even in plants. “If you were a dormant ladybug, you would… fatten up, pile up, stiffen up.” While most of the descriptions focus on cold weather behavior, readers will also learn about animals who survive extreme heat and drought through dormancy. The energetic text is accompanied by stunning close-up photos and the back matter includes more information about “dormancy differences” as well as additional reading and websites. Perfect for preschool and primary grade audiences, this look at adaptation is a welcome addition to the science curriculum. 

Teaching Ideas: Invitations for Your Classroom

Defining Dormancy. Wait, Rest, Pause is a concept book (see our Classroom Bookshelf entry on the subgenres of nonfiction) that focuses on the animal physiology concept of dormancy. After reading the main text of Wait, Rest, Pause, invite your students to complete the sentence frame, “Dormancy is…….” Next, ask students to bring their completed sentences to small group discussion groups. Provide groups with a copy of the back matter, which includes descriptions for plant dormancy, diapause, hibernation, torpor, brumation, estivation. Provide chart paper and ask the groups to draw and write their own depictions of these methods for surviving inhabitable conditions. Students of all ages may also benefit from the opportunity to demonstrate these terms using dramatization. 

More About….. After reading Wait, Rest, Pause, your students may want to learn more about the animals featured in the book. Offer your students the opportunity to research a featured animal of their choice, working in small groups, using print and digital resources. What other adaptations do these animals have? Students can share their findings by creating a digital presentation, a poster, an e-book or a self published book. Our Classroom Bookshelf entry on Steve Jenkins’ animal books could prove helpful. 

Duet Model Reading with Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle. Pair a reading of Wait, Rest, Pause with a reading of Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready for Winter by Laura Purdie Salas, a nonfiction book about animals’ preparation for winter that employs a rhyming text. Invite your students to compare these two texts. Discuss the content, language, visuals, and back matter. What is similar? What is different? How do these nonfiction authors’ choices affect the reading experience? Both are concept books, but each has a different focus and structure. 

Animals in Your Area. Make a list of the animals that you and your students encounter in your area, including those commonly seen and those that are more rarely sighted. Next, ask students what they know about how seasonal changes affect these animals. Record their ideas and their questions. Invite a local wildlife expert to visit your class in person or via video to share information and to answer students’ questions.  Then, use Wait, Rest, Pause as a mentor text to write about the animals, insects, and plants in your area.  

Patterned Text in Nonfiction Science Books. Wait, Rest, Pause could be read along with other nonfiction titles that employ a patterned text as a part of a genre study of nonfiction picture books. Read it along with other books that employ this structure, such as, Melissa Stewart’s Feathers, Not Just For Flying, Maria Gianferrari’s Terrific Tongues, Robin Page’s Seeds Move, and  Melissa Stewart’s Can an Aardvark Bark? Invite students to discuss how the patterned text supports their content learning and their reading development. Use these texts as mentor texts to inspire students to try out writing a patterned nonfiction text. 

Winter Animals Text Set. Wait, Rest, Pause can be explored along with other titles in a text set focusing on animals in the winter. Include texts such as:  Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold, Over and Under the Snow, Snack, Snooze, Skedaddle: How Animals Get Ready for Winter, Under the Snow, Bugs and Bugsicles: Insects in the Winter. Compare and contrast the information and presentation across these books. What have students learned about how animals survive the winter? What else are they curious about? 

Photos as Illustration. Wait, Rest, Pause has all the qualities of a well constructed photo essay, yet it is a variation on the genre. The back matter includes a photo acknowledgement listing which indicates that the majority of the photos are stock images. Kudos to the book designer! Include this text in a collection of nature, science, or more general collection of titles that use photographs as illustrations. Guide your students to make observations about the roles the photographs play in the book: How are the text and the photographs related? How do the photographs move the narrative or expository text forward? How are the photographs placed within the book? Next, provide digital cameras or tablets and use an e-book composition tool like Book Creator to allow your students the opportunity to write and illustrate a book using photography. If you are seeking additional examples of photo essays as mentor texts, these Classroom Bookshelf entries may be helpful: Hatching Chicks in Room 6, Can We Help?: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities, Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey, Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature, The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery, It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden, and Bloom Bloom! (poetry and photography)

Exploring Action Verbs. Wait, Rest, Pause, with its patterned text, provides a wonderful opportunity to explore the impact that well chosen verbs can have on a piece of writing. Reread the book and invite your students to act out the animal motions described in the text. Next, watch   Melissa Stewart’s Video Mini-Lesson on Vivid Verbs and examine the verbs she uses in Beneath the Sun and Seashells, More Than a Home. Then, make a two column chart of the animals and verbs used to describe their behaviors that are found in Wait, Rest, Pause. Divide your students up into small groups and ask each group to expand the listing of verbs for one of the animals. Depending on the age of your students, you could take this activity a step further, inviting students to collaborate to compose a brief expository text about these animals that uses the verbs they have listed. 

Further Explorations

Digital Texts

Author’s Website: Marcie Flinchum Atkins

National Geographic: It’s Not Just Bears

National Geographic Kids: Fascinating Ways Animals Prepare for Winter

 Melissa Stewart’s Video Mini-Lesson on Vivid Verbs

Photo Essays on The Classroom Bookshelf

Hatching Chicks in Room 6 

Can We Help?: Kids Volunteering to Help Their Communities

Handle With Care: An Unusual Butterfly Journey

Mysterious Patterns: Finding Fractals in Nature

The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees: A Scientific Mystery 

It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden.

Bloom Bloom! (poetry and photography)


Hansen, A.S. (2010). Bugs and bugsicles: Insects in the winter. Ill. by R.C. Kray. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. 

Messner, K. (2011). Over and under the snow. ill. C.S. Neal. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle. 

Page, R. (2009). Seeds move. New York: Beach Lane. 

Salas, L.P. (2019). Snack, snooze, skedaddle: How animals get ready for winter. Ill. By C. Gevry

Sidman, J. (2014). Winter bees and other poems of the cold. Ill. by R. Allen. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Stewart, M. (2009). Under the snow. Ill. C.R. Bergum. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree. 

Stewart, M. (2014). Beneath the sun. Ill. C.R. Bergum. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree. 

Stewart, M. (2014). Feathers, not just for flying. Ill. by S. Brannen. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge. 

Stewart, M. (2017). Can an aardvark bark. Ill. by S. Jenkins. New York: Beach Lane. 

Stewart, M. (2019). Seashells, more than a home. Ill. by S. Brannen. Cambridge, MA: Charlesbridge. 

Erika Thulin Dawes About Erika Thulin Dawes

Erika is a professor of language and literacy at Lesley University. A former classroom teacher, reading specialist, and literacy supervisor, she now teaches courses in children’s literature, early literacy, and literacy methods. Erika is the co-author of Learning to Write with Purpose, Teaching with Text Sets, and Teaching to Complexity.


  1. What a lovely post! Marcie’s book is wonderful, and I’m honored to have my book SNACK, SNOOZE, SKEDADDLE referenced along with books by some of my very favorite authors. Thanks for spreading the nonfiction love!

    • Erika Thulin Dawes Erika Thulin Dawes says

      Thank you for all you do to put engaging nonfiction into the hands of young learners!