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A Book of Animal Poems

by Maxine Kumin & illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2006
ISBN: 0-618-50753-1
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Kumin, a distinguished poet and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, offers 19 rhyming poems that each focus on one specific creature in this somewhat uneven but beautifully illustrated collection. Her subjects range from the miniature (tiny spider mites or snails) to the immense (giraffes or mastodons), and she also includes a poem that explains the concept of extinction. Many of the poems are small, polished gems with tight, satisfying rhyme schemes; a few meander along with unclear rhythm and some word pairs that merely nod in recognition without really rhyming. Several of the longer selections incorporate significant information about the subject into the poetry. Zagarenski’s exuberant mixed-media illustrations use glowing colors, unusual perspectives and inventive touches such as tiny hats or jackets to make the animals even more appealing. One delightful illustration shows an alligator with a crown lumbering through a swamp; the same creature is featured on the final page with the humorous farewell, “See you later . . . ” (Picture book. 5-9)