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JUST US TWO by Joyce Sidman


Poems About Animal Dads

by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Susan Swan

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7613-1563-2
Publisher: Millbrook

Poems about a dozen unusual animal dads are exuberantly illustrated with cut-paper collages. Animals include the arctic wolf, poison-arrow frog, emperor penguin, Nile crocodile, and California deer mouse, among others. Animal lovers will enjoy these animal oddities, which seem surprisingly human in their behavior. In an afterword, the author provides a photograph and brief facts about each animal. Poems are presented in a double-page layout, the text sliding, jumping, swimming, and swinging across the page. Some poems, like the first, “If I Were an Egg,” take the shape of the subject, while others, like “Song of the Night,” are told in two voices—father ostrich speaks in capital letters and hatching baby ostrich replies in small type. In the most successful poems, the author captures the voice of the subject—for example, in “Egg Business,” the Giant Water Bug laments, “Life is tough / when you’ve got eggs. / Sometimes all I see are eggs! / Heavy, tickly, twisty eggs.” In the style of Eric Carle, Swan paints papers, cuts them to form the paper collages, and photographs them to enhance shadows. Collages are most successful when they are kept simple, as in “Flying Lessons,” where the gray and white falcons are presented against a solid blue sky, accented with a few wispy white clouds. Sometimes the art distracts from the poems—in “Song of the Night,” verses placed on the sand and scribble background are difficult to read, and in “Along the Nile,” so many animals and plants swim in and out of the page it is hard to follow the text. Still poems have a bouncy appeal, and illustrations invite repeated examination. (Poetry. 6-9)