Friday, January 16, 2015

Poetry Friday with a review of Book Of Animal Poetry

Many children like to watch animals in zoos and on television. They like to read about real animals in books, and many picture book authors and illustrators use animals as their main characters because they know that their young readers are will be drawn to their creations. Poets too like to write about animals, and today's title is literally packed with animal poems of all kinds.

Book Of Animal Poetry
Book of Animal PoetryEdited by J. Patrick Lewis
Poetry
For ages 5 to 8
National Geographic, 2012, 978-1-4263-1009-6
Many poets love to describe nature and animals in the poems that they write. Some like to go a step further and they “try to imagine the secret lives of animals.” What is it like to be an animal, and to see its world through the eyes of that creature?
   In this remarkable collection of two hundred poems we encounter animals that have just come into the world, those that are big, those that are small, the winged ones, the ones that live in water, the strange ones, the noisy ones and the quiet ones. Some of the poems were written many decades ago and capture the feeling of a different time. Others are more modern and reflect a more contemporary approach to poetry writing. There are poems that rhyme and those that are written in blank verse. Some are funny and others are more completive.
   What makes this collection so special is that the poets don’t only write about animals that are commonplace. They embrace the whole animal kingdom from big whales “always spouting fountains,” to little ladybugs, “Smaller/ than a button, / bigger than a spot.” We drift on the wings of “six geese / rowing across a full moon” and plunge deep into oceans with a seal who “swims / With a swerve and a twist, / a flip of the flipper, / a flick of the wrist.”
   Some of the animals are strangely creepy, like the piranha who will consider “you’re meat” should you ever encounter it. Others are weird but funny, like the baby porcupine who, though it cannot yet climb trees can still raise its quills “and pirouette.” Then there is the armadillo which “From head to tail / It wears a scratchy coat of mail.” Meerkats, anteaters, frilled lizards, sting rays and other oddities also appear on the pages.
   Throughout the book the poems are paired with stunning full-color photographs to give readers an extraordinary journey into the world of animals. The photos provide a wonderful backdrop for poems written by Jane Yolen, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Hilaire Belloc, Michael J. Rosen, Ogden Nash and others.

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