ANIMALESSENCE by Louise Burrelli


Poems of Whimsy and Wisdom for Animal Lovers of All Ages
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A light collection of poems about animals.

In her debut book of verse, Burrelli, a former teacher of foreign languages, assembles 26 poems extolling the virtues of creatures real and imagined. Using the alphabet as a structural guide for her subjects, she offers a menagerie of beasts, ranging from the kingly Lion and alphabet-closing Zebra to the veritably unknown termite-like Xylophage and unsavory Vulture. As the work’s title implies, the author aims to capture each creature’s essence, which she does with wit and aplomb, often with the animal speaking for itself. “Cattitude” and “Stage Fright” offer particularly captivating portrayals of the cat and rooster, respectively. The cat observes, “I find it suitable, / To be inscrutable,” a sentiment exemplified by felines the world over. In “Stage Fright,” the rooster reveals that his crowing not only heralds the break of day but, in fact, causes it: “I summon the sun and make him rise!” He then admits his deep fear that one morning the sun may ignore his plea: “My entire reputation is at stake, / If the incantation that I make, / Doesn’t cause the day to break.” This touching insight also provides an entertaining example of personification, with which Burrelli experiments throughout the text. Though the poems, accompanied by pen-and-ink drawings by the author, are generally cute and comprehensible (at times, even vaguely recalling James Thurber), the prosody could be much tighter, with meter often sacrificed in the service of forced rhyme. Young listeners, however, aren’t likely to care, and adult animal lovers may overlook the stylistic shortcomings in the face of the endearing content.

Tame and thoughtful portraits of our friends in the wild.

Pub Date: Nov. 23rd, 2005
ISBN: 0-595-37023-3
Program: Kirkus Indie
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