From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 4–This collection of humorous poems by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet does not stand out among similar titles. Kumin's traditional verse and conversational style suit the lighthearted tone of her pieces, and she sometimes stretches rhyme and meter–with varied results. Compare these four lines from Giraffe, the first two successful, the second two less so: His eyesight is so sharp that he/can spot you half a mile away./To drink, he either must fold down/his forelegs or straddle the edge of the pond. Zagarenski's bold and vibrant mixed-media illustrations are energetic in layout and match the selections perfectly. However, multiple titles by Douglas Florian, Richard Michelson, Alice Schertle, and J. Patrick Lewis offer more accomplished animal poems, and The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom,
edited by Jack Prelutsky (Knopf, 1997), is a wonderful anthology. For large collections only.–Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA
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From dot-size mites to thundering mastodons, Kumin celebrates the animal kingdom's full spectrum in her latest picture-book collection of poems. Each of the mostly rhyming selections combines playful nonsense with animal facts, such as habitat and diet: "Nobody has to tell him to finish / his beans, asparagus, peas, or spinach," reads "Rabbit." Several selections show a fascination with animals' prehistoric roots: "Old bull of the waters, / old dinosaur cousin" begins "Alligator." "Million of years of evolution / led to this bizarre solution" refers to the divergent genetic paths that manatees and elephants, who share an ancestor, have followed. A final poem, about extinction, adds an uplifting call to action: "look after the mammals and birds / and reptiles and fish that are left." Zagarenski's whimsical paint, paper, and photo collages amplify the playfulness in endearing, expressive images of sweetly fanged mites and a flying squirrel clad in a star-bellied leotard. Match this with Douglas Florian's books and with Joyce Sidman's Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow,
reviewed on p.51. Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved