Photographs by Jason Stemple
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 8 and up
Boyds Mills Press, 2010, 978-1-59078-650-5
Egrets, also called Great White Herons, are exceptionally beautiful and elegant birds, and many people, including poet Jane Yolen and photographer Jason Stemple, are big fans of the large birds. Egrets are found in many parts of the world ,and are wading birds that favor shallow lakes, rice paddies, mudflats, tidal estuaries, and other wet areas. With a beak that is “as sharp and fine / as a fisherman’s gutting knife,” egrets skewer the fish, frogs, crustaceans, and insects that they like to eat. They stand motionless, waiting and watching, and when they see a movement they stab their prey, “Almost every strike a winner.”
Egrets have beautiful large wings that they care for assiduously, preening each feather carefully to remove any dirt. The feathers are so beautiful that for many years they were highly prized by clothes and hat designers. Thankfully, many people, including the author of these poems, think that egret feathers belong “Upon the shoulders of the egret.”
In this splendid title fourteen poems are paired with photographs and sections of text to give readers an interesting picture of what egrets are like. Jane Yolen uses several very different poetry forms in her poems and readers will enjoy seeing how she crafts, among other things, a haiku and a limerick.