Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Animal Poems

Animal Poems

Spring 2007 Poetry
Ages: 8 & Up
Author: Valerie Worth
Illustrator: Steve Jenkins
ISBN: 978-0-374-38057-1
Hardcover Price: $17.00
Review:
Animal themes have been a children's poetry staple since the beginning of the genre, but this particular collection by Valerie Worth is a standout for one simple reason: it's anything but simple. These poems, about creatures as diverse as hummingbirds and whales, are startling in their complexity of thought. Most children's poetry tends toward catchy rhyme and playful word choice - and there's certainly nothing wrong with that approach. But there's something refreshing about a book that sets the bar higher for its readers, that demands we slow down and contemplate the message in the words. Worth writes in a free verse style that would make these poems fit quite neatly into an non-juvenile poetry collection. In “Bat,” for example, she writes of its “Taking dust and / Clay for his / Colors, holding / Aloof from / The gaudy sun,” while later a wasp is a “Sharp flake of / Night, let loose / In daylight.” Each poem is punctuated by Steve Jenkins's striking animal collages, which are as richly textured as the words they complement. For younger readers, this is perhaps best shared aloud with an adult.
Zarina Mullan Plath   ©2007 Parents' Choice
Zarina Mullan Plath has undergraduate degrees in both biology and English. Her interests include cookbooks/culinary history, South Asian literature (especially in regards to South Asians in America), and, of course, children's literature. Her poetry is included in the anthology Sweeping Beauty (U. of Iowa Press, 2005). Zarina lives in Central Illinois with her husband, two children, and assorted pets.


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