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We could not let April end without reviewing this fantastic collection of poems. It’s entitled National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs that Squeak, Soar, and Roar! (kids.nationalgeographic.com, $24.95, ages 4-8) which is just how we like our animal poetry to be.  Here’s the bonus – the book is edited by J. Patrick Lewis, the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate.

For fellow Californians, included is an evocative Haiku inspired by Bali Sardines from L.A. local, Joan Bransfield Graham:

Dancing through the waves,
ballerinas of the blue —
the ocean their stage.

You’ll also find poems from UCLA graduate and award winning poet, Janet S. Wong; Pulitzer Prize winning former U.S. Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan; Betsy Franco; and Kenn Nesbitt to name a few. Seeking poems about hamsters and honey bees? You’ll find ’em! Want to read about Roosters and Raccoons? They’re there, too. Eager for elephants? Look no further.

This treasury is really not just for 4-8 year-olds because the photographs are simply spectacular and ideally suited for each poem. I’m certain that even teens and adults will find themselves amazed at the variety of details, colors and moods conveyed in all 186 pages.  Of course all the great poets are here to enjoy, and easy to find with the Poet Index: from Aiken to Sandburg, Frost to Madox Roberts, and Rosetti to Whitman.  The helpful Subject Index, Title Index and First Line Index make this book indispensable for students. There’s also a super spread devoted to writing poems and another for resources, but the poems themselves are what we’re here for.  Broken down into manageable sections, this collection divides the poems into an intro called Welcome to the World. This is followed by other sections called The Big Ones, The Little Ones, The Winged Ones, The Water Ones, The Strange Ones, The Noisy Ones, and a Final Thought in closing.

I have nothing but praise for this marvelous book that is not only an homage to the animal kingdom and its beauty but to every word used to describe it.

-Reviewed by Ronna Mandel

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