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At the Sea Floor Cafe: Odd Ocean Critter Poems Hardcover – April 1, 2011
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Dexterous formal verse about sea creatures pairs
with pleasingly abstract block prints in this informative,
fun collection...Sidebars further educate readers...while appended notes
offer a crash course on poetic form. Beguiling lines...should spark readers' interest in poetry and
marine biology alike. Publishers Weekly
This collection...begins with an invitation to explore. The first few lines...read: "Let's visit a habitat shallow and deep/And boiling hot, where acids seep" The fact that parts of the ocean are boiling hot is just the first of many surprises...The attractive design features appealing colors and block-print illustrations.SLJ
From snapping shrimp with bubble-shooting claws to the Osedax worm that digests whalebones on the ocean floor, intriguing and unusual sea creatures are introduced in this collection of 18 engaging poems written in a variety of forms. Kirkus
About the Author
LESLIE BULION is the author of several children's books, including Hey There, Stink Bug!; Tall Ships Fun; and Fatuma's New Cloth, winner of the African Studies Association's 2002 Children's Africana Books. She lives in Connecticut.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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Evans uses linoleum block prints to skillfully portray the animals and their habitat.
Each poem is imaginative, informative, and skillfully crafted which makes this book a wonderful pairing of science and language -- a delight in its own right and ideal for cross-curriculum lessons.
The ocean and its creatures have always been a fascination for humans. Explorers have only investigated about give percent of the oceans, and man's curiosity begs for more information. This compilation of poems by Leslie Bulion takes a look at the odd creatures that live under the sea. The eighteen poems explore fish, octopus, squid and other animals, focusing on the obscure and the different like the sea spiders and the coconut octopus. Next to each poem, there is a paragraph or two giving interesting information about the creature in the poem. Some of the paragraphs include the pronunciation of the more scientific words, which is helpful. The glossary in the back also helps readers understand words they may not have read before. The illustrations support the theme of ocean life, but they do little to reinforce the idea of the odd creatures. The typical drawings do support the idea of the critters described as being different or unique.
What makes this book special is its eclectic style. Each poem is told in a different way: a triolet (eight-lined poem with just two rhyming sounds), free verse, lyrics, and a cinquain. The different rhythms and designs give the reader a broad range of poetry in which to read and, in the case of beginner writers, to imitate. In the back of the book, each poem's style is explained, which gives a young writer an idea of how to write a similar poem.
One of the poems that embodies the idea of the book (odd critters) with diverse poetry is "Dolphin Fashion," a limerick.
A bottlenose counseled her daughter:
"Put this sponge on your beak underwater.
You can scare out more fish,
Poke sharp stones as you wish,
And your skin'll stay smooth like it oughter" (Bulion 19).
The additional paragraph explains how some dolphins near Australia have sponges on their noses. Researchers believe one mother started using the sponge to protect her nose while feeding on the ocean floor. Her babies imitated her, and a tradition began. The unique behavior of these dolphins is told lightheartedly in this limerick while exposing children to a new format for a poem.
To demonstrate how poetry can be fun, a teacher or librarian can use the poem "Upside Down and All-Around," which is about a snail. The words curve around in a circle, creating the image of a snail. After reading the poem and discussing how the set-up adds to the feel of the poem, students can pair up to write a poem about a favorite animal, twisting the words into the shape of the animal. Students who may not enjoy poetry may like putting the words into a shape, thus engaging them in poetry.
I reviewed this book for my poetry class at Texas Woman's University.
Explore the strange behavior of ocean critters like the coconut octopus which walks backwards with six tentacles wrapped around its head to the violet snail who floats on a raft of its own spit-bubbles. The sea is a wondrous and magical place, and At the Sea Floor Café showcases the mystery and delight in living color. The book also features many facts about both ocean critters and the language of poetry, as well as a glossary, and an index for outside resources where children can learn more about our fascinating ocean life.