Poems celebrate 12 animals that might be found in American backyards.
This collection complements Held and Kim's The Yard Critters (2011), which similarly invites young readers to think about beings that share their world. From ladybugs to chipmunks, each double-page spread features a different creature, one that may be familiar from storybooks, if not from personal experience. In a few short stanzas, the poet describes both attributes and habits. Of the porcupine: “It’s a thrill / to see this / walking quill / cushion // strolling uphill / from the cellar / where he’s built / a den down under.” “So much / does Nature / love her, / Shrew // can birth / ten litters / per year— / whew!” There’s even a riddle: “Flying from Belize to bless our summer, / this ingenious gem is called the ------.” (The word “hummer” appears in a later poem, “Field Mouse.”) Not all the ideas are important or even accurate; this is not an informational book. Nor are these your usual children’s poems. The vocabulary is sophisticated. The rhymes and sound patterns are complex and vary unpredictably. With only 12 poems, this title may seem slight. What adds value are Kim’s intriguing collage illustrations, creating stylized but recognizable animal images set on generous white space with elements crossing the gutter to lead eyes to the text.
This oversized volume won’t fit on a bookshelf; leave it open on a table to display the art. (Picture book/poetry. 7-9)