Friday, April 27, 2007

Poetry Friday review: Animal Poems

Bloggers have been raving about Valerie Worth's Animal Poems--and for good reason.

First and foremost, as you can tell from this cover illustration, Steve Jenkins' illustrations are beauty and genius incarnate. His cut-paper collages are composed from such small pieces that the animals appear living even though they're not identical representations of their referents. I mean, just look at this porcupine. Don't you want to take him home and feed him?

Worth's animal poems are short, with their rhythms matching their subject. Take, for example, the first eight lines of "Whale":

Too heavy to live
On land, where only
Winged things escape
The weight of stones,

His whole hill of
Flesh floats easily
In the sea, light as
Dust in sun-baths

Now contrast this heavy beginning to the opening lines of "Snake":

Limbs to
Run like
Spilled to
A liquid
Silt, a
Of scales...

These differences are ones kids will understand as you read Animal Poems aloud. And with poems dedicated to bats, owls, cockroaches, and jellyfish, a child will find a favorite in no time.*

Animal Poems is best suited for children ages four to eight. It's perfect for storytime reading and for lessons on poetry in the early grades. Enjoy!

* Valerie Worth died in 1994 and many of these poems were written decades ago. That being said, I do wish the first four lines of "Camel" were not included in this volume: "They can afford to be ugly/And ungainly, to stand/About munching and belching/Like smug old maids" How do you explain that one to a bunch of first graders?
Other blog reviews:

Elaine Magliaro at Blue Rose Girls
Kelly Fineman
The Excelsior File
The roundup is over at A Wrung Sponge today. Head on over and leave cloudscome your comments!