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ANIMAL POEMS by Valerie Worth


by Valerie Worth & illustrated by Steve Jenkins

Age Range: 5 - 12

Pub Date: April 2nd, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-38057-0
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Worth’s shrewd economy and sharp observations characterize 23 poems illustrated with Jenkins’s familiar paper collages. Poems like “Kangaroo” are accessible to young children: “The trouble is, / Once born, there’s / No going back—” save for kangaroo babies, “who can / . . . by / A simple somersault / Return headfirst / To the delectable / Pocket of the dark.” Others are disarmingly sophisticated. “Snake” plumbs its subject’s coloration and movement for images: “Mottled / Mosaic / Of pebbles / Tumbled / Smoothly along, / Their slender / Landslide / Filing / Down / The narrow / Channel / Grooved by / The guiding / Head. . . . ” Jenkins’s canny, occasionally self-referential exploitation of paper to portray animal characteristics emerges in whale’s watery batik, elephant’s wrinkled hide and jellyfish’s transparent tentacles. Small trim size (22 centimeters square) renders the gutter somewhat intrusive in a few spreads, and while the image of “Wasp” practically achieves a third dimension, “Snake” seems correspondingly flat. The subject of “Bear” is its eye, “Like a fierce / Furious / Bee,” but Jenkins depicts limpid orbs. Lacking supporting material about the animals, the poet (who died in 1994) or artist, this package doesn’t soar with the poems, but just to have anything available by Worth is worth noting. (Picture book/poetry. 5-12)