Friday, February 24, 2012

Poetry Friday: A review of Bees, Snails, and Peacock Tails

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by nature. When I was growing up I wasn't much good at remembering mathematical formula or Greek grammar, but I could recite, ad nauseam, facts about animals and plants. I knew that male and not female sea horses take care of their babies, and that lemurs are only found in Madagascar. I knew that orchids are epiphytes and that some plants use moths and bats as pollinators. It is therefore not surprising that I was drawn to today's poetry title. As soon as saw the cover I knew that this was a book for me, and I was right.

Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails: Patterns & Shapes . . . NaturallyBees, snails, and peacock tails
Betsy Franco
Illustrated by Steve Jenkins
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 7 to 10
Simon and Schuster, 2008, 978-1-4169-0386-4
   Nature is full of patterns and geometric shapes. Some of them, like the hexagons that you find in a honeycomb, are quite fascinating because we still have no real idea how the “math” of the pattern is passed on “from worker bee / to worker bee.”
   Other patterns are more subtle. Have you, for example, ever noticed that moths are perfectly symmetrical? If, on a summer evening, a moth is drawn to your porch light, take a close look and you might see how the features on one wings are “perfectly matched” with those on the other.
   In the fall, in many places in the northern hemisphere, you can look up into the sky and see another pattern literally flying by. Somehow geese and other migratory birds know that flying in a v-shaped “wedge” makes it easier for them “slice through the air.”
   If you go snorkeling in a place where puffer fish live, it is likely that you will one day meet one of these usual fish. When they sense that danger is near, puffer fish fill their bodies with air until they are “almost a sphere.” Looking like a strange spiny floating ball, they are now in a form that makes them unattractive to a creature that is looking for its next meal.
   With wonderful rhymes and gorgeous collage illustrations, the author and illustrator of this book give readers a picture of some of nature’s miraculous patterns and shapes.
   At the back of the book the reader will find further information about the eleven topics that are explored in the title.
   

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