Douglas Florian is a poet and artist who has created poetry picture books that explore a wide variety of subjects. Over the years I have greatly enjoyed reading these books, and it is interesting to see how he applies his considerable talent to take on a new topic that interests him.
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Houghton Mifflin, 1996, 0-15-202366-6
Birds come in all shapes and sizes and they live in a wide variety of habitats, including in our cities, towns and villages. We often see birds when we go about our day. Among other things they chirp at us from their perches in trees, build nests in our gardens, and try to steal our food when we are at the beach. Sometimes, if we are lucky, we get to watch a wild bird and see how it lives its life, at least for a while.
In this wonderful collection of bird poems we get to meet twenty-one very different species of birds. Some of the birds will be familiar to readers such as the hummingbird, which one can hear “hum / With beating wings so fast they’re blurred.” We probably have seen emperor penguins in zoos or in movies. How extraordinary that these birds are able to live “on ice packs / Of antarctic sea,” a place that “Is harsh as can be.”
Other species are a little more exotic. There is the quetzal, which has a very long green tail that the author describes using a splendid concrete poem. We also encounter the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock, whose head and shoulders are “flaming bright red.” So bright are this bird’s feathers that “Each expert agrees, / This vivid bird can’t be ignored.”
With touches of humor and a clever use of language, Douglas Florian uses his poems to pay homage to birds. Readers will find a wide variety of poetry forms on the pages of this book, and they will enjoy meeting some bird friends that they have never even heard of before.