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A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection Hardcover – April 1, 2009


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A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection + Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: WordSong (April 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590786246
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590786246
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 9.6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #645,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Water acts as a mirror in this picture book that combines short poems with full-page color photos of animals in the wild. As Yolen points out in a brief note, her son’s photos show double images that will make readers see things in new ways. An alligator poised above its reflection in the water looks as if it has two heads. A gorgeous mirror image shows a solitary cockle in its shell. The poetic forms are well matched to the mood in the pictures. Accompanying a blurry, liquid image of a roseate spoonbill is a stirring, spare haiku: “Her only competition / Is her reflection.“ A photo catches a coyote standing “statue still,” but both the poem and the image give the sense of the animal’s leap into action that will follow the scene. Drawn by the rich play in words and pictures, kids will see reflections, strange and beautiful, in the natural world. Grades 2-5. --Hazel Rochman

Review

* "Pairing lyrical poems and crisp photography to great effect, this collection is a gem. Each poem contains Yolen's response to a series of photographs that portray living things reflected in water. Stemple's photographs startle the reader with the extraordinary beauty of the ordinary things, and Yolen's poems are laced with humor (sometimes wry, sometimes overt) and with environmental undercurrents. Beside a portrait of blue wood storks, she offers, 'How to double your population?/ Stand in water smooth as glass./ This is not mere speculation; Check the wood storks by the grass.' In 'Jaws x 2 x 80,' an alligator's jaws are seen twice, 'One pair/ is real,/ and one/ a reflection./ But I'll never/ give either/ a closer/ inspection.' The book's design poem across from photograph, with bands of solid color along opposing edges mimics the photographs' inherent symmetry, while leaving room for brief information about nature. The images and words resonate readers will find themselves responding to Yolen's introductory invitation to 'linger over these photos, contemplate the poems, see if together or separately they make you think again, make you reflect.'" --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

"The title of this volume comes from Hamlet's instructions to the players that the 'purpose of playing' is to mirror nature. And so is the purpose of the nature photographer and poet here...Italicized captions on each poem's page add information about the pictured animal, making this a good volume - along with other titles by this mother-son team - for teachers wanting to connect science and poetry." --Kirkus Reviews

The title of this volume comes from Hamlet's instructions to the players that the "purpose of playing" is to mirror nature. And so is the purpose of the nature photographer and poet here...Italicized captions on each poem's page add information about the pictured animal, making this a good volume - along with other titles by this mother-son team - for teachers wanting to connect science and poetry. --Kirkus Reviews

The title of this volume comes from Hamlet's instructions to the players that the "purpose of playing" is to mirror nature. And so is the purpose of the nature photographer and poet here...Italicized captions on each poem's page add information about the pictured animal, making this a good volume - along with other titles by this mother-son team - for teachers wanting to connect science and poetry. --Kirkus Reviews

More About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts. All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille. With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Barker on June 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Wonderful! Breathtaking photographs and a world of poetry opened for your kiddo. Can't think of a better book to help develop a love for poetry.
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Format: Hardcover
A Mirror to Nature: Poems About Reflection pairs a dozen photographs by Jason Stemple with the rhyming verse of Jane Yolen. Each photograph contains a reflective image of wildlife in water, including an assortment of birds and other animals such as the raccoon, deer, coyote, alligator and frog. Yolen provides a playful poem and interesting fact for every natural depiction.

The result is a wondrously entertaining and captivating picture book that invites the reader to reflect upon all types of reflections. Stemple's photography is simply stunning, and Yolen's poems are as contemplative as they are humorous. A reference to Hamlet on the dedication page credits Shakespeare for inspiring both the title and the concept: "To hold, as `twere, the mirror up to nature ...." The juxtaposition of what is real with what is illusory, yet equally beautiful, encourages inquiry not only into nature's literal reflections, but our own perception of the world around us. For example, Stemple's photograph of one side of a shell and its reflection in a pool of water at the beach is accompanied by Yolen's eight-lined poem entitled "A Solitary Cockle" describing the "solitary bivalve" as "somewhat open to the moment." The fact portion explains the difference between a cockle and a clam: Both are bi-valves, meaning two shells connected by a hinge joint, but cockles have a foot they use to burrow into the sand.

A Mirror to Nature is perfect for intermediate readers in grades three through six to enjoy independently, but parents and teachers won't want to miss the wonderful opportunity to join them and experience this unique combination of visual and literary art together. It's very simply profound.

Laurie A. Gray
Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XV, No. 2, April 2011); used with permission.
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