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COUSINS OF CLOUDS by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer


Elephant Poems

by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, illustrated by Megan Halsey, Sean Addy

Age Range: 8 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-618-90349-8
Publisher: Clarion

Against fanciful collage backdrops portraying pachyderms in an array of styles and arrangements, Zimmer pairs prose and mostly free-verse tributes to elephants and those who care for them. She opens with a retelling of an Indian folktale about how elephants were deprived of their wings (“To this very day / you can see the poor elephants / flapping their ears, / dreaming of flight, / but now only / cousins of clouds”) and closes with a globe-spanning catalog of images proving that the animals are “etched in the imagination / of all mankind.” In between, she writes with passion and sympathy of abandoned work elephants in Bangkok, how the huge animals care for their young, of elephant predators and intelligence, of elephant refuges in Kenya and Tennessee. Along with giving each spread a different look and palette, the illustrators inject dashes of visual wit—a large side view of an elephant’s body is in part assembled from inanimate items like a “tapered rope of tail” and “great pillars” of legs to accompany a clutch of haiku describing an elephant's constituent parts. The author adds a boxed-in block of commentary to each spread and tacks a quick reading list to the end. Purposeful, but both informative and heartfelt. (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-10)