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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Ten Picture Books of Animal Poems

I was planning to write separate post for "Picture Books of Bird Poems", then decided that they are animals too, so, why not just be inclusive here...

The animal poetry books are listed here in no particular order. Some are for the older readers while others are easily enjoyed by all.


Feathers
Poems about Birds
by Eileen Spinelli
illustrated by Lisa McCue

Eileen Spinelli needs no introduction. Her Polar Bear, Arctic Hare is a firm favorite in our bookshelf.

The poems in Feathers are short and lyrical, and most a quite humorous, plus all of them are delightfully entertaining and educational - we learn a little about each bird as we chuckle at the apt titles. And, we might learn a bit about the various poetic forms from Haiku to Limerick to Cinquain.

The illustrations by Lisa McCue are bright, colorful and the birds are shown quite realistically in their natural habitat.

We learn about the somewhat unfamiliar lyrebird of New Zealand and plover, the wading bird of Egypt, as well as the familiar favorites like the crow and woodpecker and weaverbird.

[image source: Eileen Spinelli's website]


Birds of a Feather
Front Coverby Jane Yolen
photographs by Jason Stemple

Jane Yolen has written such a wide range of children's books from Owl Moon, How Do Dinosaurs... books, Child of Faerie, Child of Earth, to Dragon's Blood, but her poetry collections seem to be lost in the mix somehow.

In Birds of a Feather, 14 stunning up-close photographs of birds are accompanied by creative and playful poems, and a brief paragraph of facts about each bird.

Haiku for a Cool Kingfisher

Hey, girl, fish lover,
Sitting on the dead gray tree,
Love the blue Mohawk.

With clever titles like Solitary Wood Duck, terns Galore, Regal Eagle, Cedar Waxwings Unmasked, we learn about the birds as much from the facts box as from the poem itself.

The poems probably will appeal to older children better as they can probably get some of the nuances.

[image source: google books]


Omnibeasts
OmnibeastsAnimal Poems and Paintings
by Douglas Florian

It looks like anything we get interested in, we invariably find a book by the prolific Mr.Florian!

As always, the illustrations are appealing. The poems are short and funny and quirky and weird at times. To give an example, there is one about Jaguarundi (a.k.a eyra cat native to Central and South America)

The jaguarundi hunts by day
Then sleeps inside its lair
And when it wakes it likes to play
In jaguarundi-wear

Sure to incite peals of laughter in the young. How can one go wrong with the "underwear" motif :)

Of course, not all of the poems are as silly. We learn about each animals as we take the poems in, one by one, wondering, Are these for real? 

Between the Jaguarundi, the Skink, and the Blenny, the fairly uncommon animals are covered. We also encounter the usual suspects like the cheetah, the porcupine, the armadillo, the bat, the tiger, the boar; and, some of the unusual like the mayfly, the daddy longlegs, and the chihuahua.

All in all, a fun read. The kind of book that brings joy to adults and kids alike. (At least in our household. And, at least for this adult.)

Also by Florian that we enjoyed: Mammalabilia, Beast Feast, and On The Wing.

[image source: scholastic]



National Geographic Book of Animal PoetryNational Geographic Book of Animal Poetry
200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar!
edited by J.Patrick lewis

Essentially, this is a photo book. Full of breathtaking animal photos that we've come to expect from National Geographic.

And, it is also a magnificent poetry book. From thoughtful to playful, from silly to evocative, from classic to modern, the book presents poems by such poets as Emily Dickinson, Rober Frost, Lord Tennyson, J.Patrick Lewis, Jane Yolen, X.J.Kennedy, Georgia Heard, Jack Prelutsky, John Ciardi, to name a few.

The book starts with a section called "Welcome to the World."  The rest of the book is presented in sections titled "The Big Ones," "The Little Ones," "The Winged Ones," "The Water Ones," "The Strange Ones," "The Noisy Ones," and "The Quiet Ones," the book showcases a wide array of animals that naturally fit in each category. A section called "Final Thought" concludes the book.

Not all poems in an anthology can appeal equally. We pick and choose and relish what resonates with us. Considering there are 200 poems in this anthology, at least a few are sure to leave a lasting impression in the young minds.

[image source: National Geographic]


Animal Poems
by Valerie Worth
illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Twenty-three poems by Valerie Worth are presented in this posthumous collection of free verses that capture the qualities of each of the animals featured - from wasp to wren, jellyfish to star-nosed mole, porcupine to tiny snail, humming bird to blue whale.

The poems are rather sophisticated and may elude the very young. But, what might hold their attention is Steve Jenkins' stunning trademark cut-paper collage art work. That's the primary reason the younger child reached for this book, not the poems themselves as his leanings are towards Kenn Nesbitt's style.


[image source: MacMillan]


A Gopher in the Garden, and Other Animal Poems
by Jack Prelutsky
illustrations by Robert Leydenfrost

The Snake

Don't ever make
the bad mistake
of stepping on snake

because
his jaws

might be awake.

The Multilingual Mynah Bird, The Bengal Tiger, The Giggling Gaggling Gaggle of Geese, Do Not Confuse the Brindled Gnu are some of the teasing titles; and there are the usual The Owl, The Ostrich, The Rabbit etc.

Scramble was an instant favorite as the first stanza probably indicates why:

If the zebra were given the spots of the leopard
and the leopard the stripes of the zebra,
then the leopard would have to be renamed the zeopard,
and the zebra retitled the libra.

[image source: personal photograph]


Animal Mischief Poems
by Rob Jackson
illustrations by Laura Jacobsen

Words made up just to rhyme are tricky especially for the young whose vocabulary is still growing and they are trying to figure out if it is a "real" word or not. At the same time, thanks to Dr.Seuss' bold approach, such new words do work when done right, in a funny context.

The poems in this book are delightful and informative. Take for example Camels:

Consider now the dromedary,
Domesticated desert ferry
Piled high with heavy crates
It loses up to half its weight
Especially when dinner's late.

So far so good, but the next two lines are visually entertaining as the letters are arranged to show two humps in the first line and one hump in the second lines:

While other camels have two humps on their bactrian
The dromedary has just one, an interesting factrian.

"bactrian" and "factrian" is easily a giggle inducer for the 7/8 year olds who probably know this fact by now.

The one I liked, titled What's in a Name? wonders if the animals were named by men? Take for example the penguins - why are they King Penguins and Emperor Penguins and not Queen and Empress? And what about Gentoo - can we rename it in the sense of the ladies and not the gents?

Sidewinder was another appealing one because of its concrete/shape poetry format - the words are arranged on the page resembling the snaky zigzags of the creature stating, "If you've never seen a side winder, its track in sand will help you find her."

The illustrations complement the light-hearted poems well.

[image source: amazon.com]


Animal poems of the Iguazú poems
Animal Poems of the Iguazu/Animalario del Iguazu Coverby Francisco X Alarcón
illustrations by Maya Christina Gonzalez

This bilingual poetry book is a treat to read, with side by side placement of Spanish original and English translation. The indigenous Guarani people have been fascinated with the Iguazú waterfalls in the northeastern part of Argentina. The author shares that he wrote these poems in a small notebook during his visits there - many of the plants and animal species are in serious danger of extinction and he hopes that these poems will motivate us to take action to protect and preserve the wild Iguazú  area.

The English version is simple, not heavy on rhyme or meter, mostly free verse, short and yet with a refreshing take. Example, Yacaré (Caiman):
on the rocks
of the Iguazú river
I'll always lie
under the sun
a smiling happy
caiman.

[Preview on Google]

[image source: Powells books]



There's a Babirusa in my Bathtub
There's a Babirusa in my Bathtub!Fact and Fancy about Curious Creatures
by Maxine Rose Schur
illustrated by Michael S. Maydak

You've heard of cats and you've heard of bats / And giraffes and zebras, of course.

Starts the book. And goes on to say, But outside the zoo what would you do / with an animals you didn't know? / Do you think you'd be frightened? / Or want to be enlightened? / If so... turn these pages and go!

And on page one, we encounter Babirusa. With the poem in one column and facts in the other, each page is a treat to read. And the picture accompanying it is realistically presented in the animal's natural habitat. Plus, there is a short paragraph of Fabulous Fact. "To prove who is the strongest, male babirusas stand on their hind legs and box each other."

Babirusa, Civet, Colugo, Jerboa,Kinkajou, Matamata, Tamandua, are some of the featured animals! Fairly uncommon and easily interesting.

Back of the book has activities based on the book. The popular one at home is the Hidden Picture challenge. Each page of illustration has something concealed in it - something alluded to in the poem. There's also a phonics and phonemic awareness activity. Also, an exercise to pick an animal from the list given, research them, and write an acrostic poem about its characteristics.

This is easily my top favorite so far for the format, the choice of animals, and the supplemental activities at the back. It is geared towards slightly older children, possibly Upper Elementary level.

[Preview at Dawn - click on the cover to look inside]

[image source: Dawn publications]


Alphabestiary (anthology)
Alphabestiarycollected  by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Allan Aitzen


As Jane Yolen shares in her blog, it is a labor of love - a collection 72 of kid-friendly animal poems from A to Z.

From Robert Louis Stevenson, Lilian Moore, Jack Prelutsky, John Ciardi, to Hilaire Belloc, Christina Rosseti, Ogden Nash, we encounter many familiar poets whose works we admire as adults and are eager to introduce to our kids.

In any A to Z presentation, it is tough to find something for Q, X, Y, Z, but Jane Yolen has rounded up quite a few for us.

[image source: Multcolib]

Also shared earlier:

Hotel Deep

Around the World on Eighty Legs

Cat Poems

Imaginary Menagerie

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