I had a free hour in the library today. It doesn’t happen very often, and I cherished it like a closely guarded secret. Of course, when my regular class cancelled, there were lots of other things I could have taken care of, but I spent the time with a book I’ve wanted to look at more carefully since it appeared on every “best of” list of 2012 – National Geographic’s Book of Animal Poetry, edited by the U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate, J. Patrick Lewis. The book is a treasure – one that belongs on the bookshelf in every elementary classroom in America. The hour flew by on the wings and tails and fins of all kinds of animals, most of which I’d seen pictures of before today, but somehow they all seemed fresh. Each photo demands the reader’s attention and appreciation.
See what I mean? I think I looked at this dog’s sweet face for a good three minutes!
The Book of Animal Poetry is divided into seven categories of animal: the Big Ones, the Little Ones,the Winged Ones, the Water Ones, the Strange Ones, the Noisy Ones, and the Quiet Ones. Here’s an example of a poem about a “strange one.”
Travel Plans by Bobbi Katz
If I could go anywhere,
here’s what I’d do.
I’d pop in the pouch of a kind
I’d travel around for as ong
as I pleased,
And learn to say ‘thank you’
The resources at the back of the book include information about writing poetry, a list of other good children’s poetry books and an index of titles and poets. Now that I’ve held on to this book for too long, I need to share it with the teachers and our animal-loving students.
Lewis is the author of many wonderful books of poetry for children – and on top of that, he lives in Ohio. If asked to select a favorite (besides The Book of Animal Poetry), I would choose Spot the Plot: A Riddle Book of Book Riddles. It’s enormously fun to share with a group of kids – who love to guess what the answer is before I’ve finished reading the riddle! Here’s the first stanza of one of them – can you guess what it is?
This is a hare-raising
about a rabbit
who skipped the stew.