Friday, December 23, 2011

Poetry Friday - A review of In the Wild

Most young children love animals, especially the exotic ones, so it is not surprising that so many books for young children feature animal characters, or describe animals. Today's poetry title is just such a book. It looks at fourteen different animals, giving children a picture of what each one is like. The poet has cleverly chosen the kinds of animals children are especially interested in, which includes lions, elephants, and kangaroos. 

In the WildDavid Elliott
Illustrated by Holly Meade
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Candlewick, 2010, 978-0-7636-4497-0
   The world is full of animals that are beautiful or strange, regal or funny, and children of all ages are fascinated by lions, elephants, bears, and other creatures. They like to know where the animals live, what they eat, and how they spend their days.
   In this memorable poetry picture book, Holly Meade’s stunning woodcut illustrations are paired with David Elliott’s delightful poems. The poet takes us around the world to meet animals that live in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas, He even goes far north to the top of the world where a polar bear swims “from / floe / to / floe.”
   Each poem captures the essence of the animal it is describing. With powerful simplicity the poem about a lion describes how this mighty animal “stands alone / on the grassy plain.”
   When we meet the elephant, we discover that this enormous land animal belies its huge size by being “delicate / as lace.” There is something about this creature that reminds one of “a cloud.”
   The sloth is altogether different, not being as grand as the lion or the elephant. No, the sloth is an unassuming creature in her brown fur, and yet the author has a lot of fondness for her because “she only moves / when necessary.” What a clever thing to do!
   This beautifully presented poetry picture book is a must for children who like animals. They will be both moved and amused by the poems, and they will surely wish that they too could see a wolf howl, a zebra run, and “bamboo bandit” panda bear chomping on its dinner.

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