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Animal Stackers
     

Animal Stackers

by Jennifer Belle, David Mcphail (Illustrator)
 

Learning the ABC's can be F-U-N when you can stack the letters to create clever poetry. Part alphabet book, part word book, animal book, and whimsical poetry Jennifer Belle's quirky yet accessible style blends the genres in an unforgettable way. Coupled with David McPhail's beautiful illustrations, this is a book that families will love reading together.

Overview

Learning the ABC's can be F-U-N when you can stack the letters to create clever poetry. Part alphabet book, part word book, animal book, and whimsical poetry Jennifer Belle's quirky yet accessible style blends the genres in an unforgettable way. Coupled with David McPhail's beautiful illustrations, this is a book that families will love reading together.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this alphabet book, the letters in the names of animals and other critters stack up to be clever acrostics. For example, "Ant" runs vertically from the top of the page, while the following text unfolds horizontally: "Aunt Alice and Mums warned me/ Not/ To make crumbs." The accompanying picture depicts an oversize ant approaching the cake crumbs spilled by a child. Familiar animals such as sheep and zebra share spreads with mythical creatures like dragons and unicorns (for X, the Chinese name for the giant panda, xiongmao, appears). Old-fashioned clothing, fairytale images and timeless childhood activities such as riding a carousel and playing tic-tac-toe abound in McPhail's (Mud Is Cake) nostalgic watercolors, even as contemporary references and a variety of cultural settings in both pictures and poems (the Empire State Building, a Rolls Royce) give the book a modern sensibility. Belle (Going Down, for adults) consistently captures a singular personality and a gentle humor for each entry. With "elephant," for instance, a child implicitly seeks permission to have the pachyderm as pet: "Extremely/ Large is an understatement/ Empties the/ Peanut butter jar./ Have to/ Ask very/ Nicely/ To keep him." McPhail makes the most of the illogical situation; he shows a child perched on an elephant's head as his aghast father reads a newspaper with the headline, "Elephant Escapes." His full-bleed spread for "ostrich," in which the bird's head peers down inside a sandcastle, is especially inspired. This attractive volume may well prompt budding wordlovers to create a pile of their own poems. Ages 5-9. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Learn the alphabet, think about animals, and play with words all at the same time with this cleverly-written, vividly-drawn book! Jennifer Belle has chosen a different animal for each letter of the alphabet, and she has used the letters of their name at the start of each line of poetry about them. For example, M is for MOTH, which reads "My favorite/ Old stoles have/ Turned into/ Holes." Each poem, taken with its accompanying illustration, is like a mini-story, and readers are sure to be drawn into David McPhail's gorgeous watercolor artwork. Teachers (and parents) will be missing a great opportunity if they fail to encourage child readers to create their own acrostics after sharing this book. Readers are sure to enjoy this game of wordplay. 2005, Hyperion, Ages 4 to 8.
—Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-An acrostic, alphabet, and poetry book all rolled into one. From Ant to Zebra, animals are presented in colorful single- and double-page entries. The letters of the creatures' names are capitalized and arranged vertically on the pages, and each one begins a line of poetry. The verses are delightful, funny, and sweet, and feature children interacting with a cast of real and imaginary creatures in a series of whimsical situations. For example, a youngster looks into the face of dragon ("Down in Chinatown/Roaring at all who pass,/And accidentally passing/Gas as flames shoot/Out of her/Nostrils") and a boy chauffeurs a jaguar in a fancy car ("Just/A big cat/Growling,/Until you/Agree to give him a ride in your/Rolls-Royce"). Although the poems often include challenging vocabulary, McPhail's watercolor illustrations clarify and enhance the verses and bring the fun-loving animals to life. The pictures are filled with vibrant colors and amusing details and have an old-fashioned quality that works well with the tone of the text. A great choice, particularly in classroom collections in which poetry is part of the curriculum.-Christine E. Carr, Lester C. Noecker Elementary School, Roseland, NJ Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Belle essays a crossover from her adult novels with 26 haiku-like verses in which the first letter of each line spells out an animal's name: "Can't wait to be / Alone in the house. / The sofa looks comfortable." McPhail fleshes out the terse texts with rumpled scenes of large-headed, introspective-looking adults and children, often in antique costume, interacting with each member of the alphabetical menagerie. Despite a certain amount of romping, plus a Chinatown dragon's "accidentally passing / Gas as flames shoot / Out of her / Nostrils," the tone is generally tongue in cheek, making this an urbane counterpart for the corduroys and velvet dress set, to Steven Schnur's collections of seasonal acrostics. (Picture book/poetry. 7-10)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786818341
Publisher:
Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:
04/06/2005
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x (d)
Age Range:
5 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Jennifer Belle is the national bestselling author of Going Down, High Maintenance, and the children's book Animal Stackers. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New York Observer, Harper's Bazaar, and Ms.

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