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Around the World on Eighty Legs: Animal Poems


A fun, fresh animal journey!

Pack your bags and put on your travelin' shoes! There's an animal adventure waiting for you! Awake with the HOWLER MONKEYS, twist into a pretzel like a QUETZAL, hang with a SLOTH, be will-nilly like a CHINCHILLA. Squawk with an AUK, bump your rump like a CAMEL, be silly with a BILBY, and drift off to sleep in ...

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A fun, fresh animal journey!

Pack your bags and put on your travelin' shoes! There's an animal adventure waiting for you! Awake with the HOWLER MONKEYS, twist into a pretzel like a QUETZAL, hang with a SLOTH, be will-nilly like a CHINCHILLA. Squawk with an AUK, bump your rump like a CAMEL, be silly with a BILBY, and drift off to sleep in the deep of the OUTBACK. Fun-filled and fact-packed, AROUND THE WORLD ON EIGHTY LEGS is the ticket for an unforgettable adventure!

The yakkity yakkity yakkity yak-
Why is it the yak never answers you back?
To a yak, nothing's worse
Than to have to converse-
The yakkity yakkity yak.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
First-time author Gibson's collection of poems cleverly presents creatures from all across the globe in witty, rhythmic, and well-crafted verse. Instructional and entertaining, the poems nicely balance information with humor and wordplay (additional animal facts appear at the end). Of the electric eel, Gibson says, "It's eelamentary,/ dear Watson,/ this one's got a/ lot of/ watts on." Although most of the poems are amusing, a few are more poetically descriptive—the arctic fox is "Quiet as a whispered prayer" and the snow leopard "slips through the snow... on velvet paws and velvet toes." Emphasizing humor over naturalism, Salmieri's (Those Darn Squirrels!) illustrations match the playfulness of Gibson's verse point for point. An angry bird shakes its wing at a skua that has snatched its worm ("A pirate with a scrappy streak,/ the skua's got a lot of cheek"), and the illustrator plays up a camel's grouchiness, the lazy euphoria of a koala's life, and the futility of a warthog's attempt at beauty sleep. Kids will likely be spurred to seek out more information on less familiar creatures like the pangolin, agouti, and hoatzin. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
Various animals from South America, Africa, Australia, Malaysia, and the North and South Poles are celebrated in rhyme and child-like colored drawings. A coiled anaconda with a sign that says "free hugs," is accompanied by a verse: "Although anaconda is fond of a hug, to my liking, his hug is a little too snug—And a little too strong, and a little too long, and that's why when I see him, I hurry along." With a cheetah: "The ultimate in speed and power, clocked past sixty miles an hour, fast as lightning—if you ever want a glimpse, it's now or...never!" At the back of the book, each animal is listed alphabetically with a small picture and some further facts. "With fringed toes and a long tail for balance, the basilisk (Bas-uh-lisk) can run across the surface of water. But if it slows down, it's sink or swim." Children will enjoy the rhymes which often use kid oriented language. The illustrations show the animals in unusual circumstances with humorous expressions on their faces. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
School Library Journal
Gr 3–4—The creative intent behind these brief poems is to introduce animal facts and world geography, covering five continents: South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and combining Arctic and Antarctic regions. Sixty animals are briefly mentioned. Most of the verses and cartoon illustrations are broadly humorous if unmemorable, as in "Crocodile": "If you slosh through a bog,/you may find it worthwhile—/Stop and pause—/Are those jaws?/(Or a log with a smile?)." An illustrated world map and a helpful "menagerie of facts" add information, but this collection of slight verse and superficial factoids falls short.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

The "Eighty Legs" of the title refer to sum of all the animals (their legs, actually) within—such animals as the Japanese macaques that need a Jacuzzi "when winter is a doozy" and an echidna that's described as "Pointy, poky. / Prickly, stickly." Amusing poems, some simple, others more sophisticated, about unusual and well-known animals from South America, the Arctic and Antarctic, Africa, Asia and Australia fill this volume. Most of North America and Europe are ignored, but from the quetzal to the cassowary, kids will go on quite a journey. The watercolor, gouache and colored-pencil illustrations are comical; the toothy goanna's portrait takes up a whole page, with his long tail going off the edge and then curving around the top. On another double-page spread, the Australian outback stretches into the distance with one furious dingo "penned" on one side of a fence and an endless, calm flock of sheep on the other. While there is no index of titles or first lines, a "Menagerie of Facts"—interesting tidbits about each animal mentioned—is arranged alphabetically with the animal names highlighted in red. A very general map provides some geographic orientation. This collection will be enjoyed in home, classroom (the poet is a former teacher) and library settings, where young poets can try writing their own verses. Not very scientific, but fun.(Picture book/poetry. 6-9)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439587556
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2011
  • Pages: 56
  • Sales rank: 676,426
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.60 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Amy Gibson

Amy Gibson lives in Northern California with her husband, three children, and the cat. Split! Splat! is her second picture book with Scholastic Press. Her first was Around the World on Eighty Legs. Visit her online at

Daniel Salmieri is the illustrator of THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS. He lives in Brooklyn, NY. This is his first picture book for Scholastic Press.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Intelligent, humorous, creative, educational!

    "Around the World on Eighty Legs" creatively teaches about both well known and obscure animals with refreshing vocabulary. At 45 years of age, I have just been introduced to the Agouti and its responsibility for Brazil nut trees, the sour smelling stomach of the Hoatzin, and the sticky-tongued Pangolin. I am thrilled to see vocabulary that young readers can acquire through descriptions like "...his prominent, eminent, salient schnoz."

    This books begins with a map of continental regions, abounds with active and humorous illustrations and brilliantly crafted descriptions, and concludes with a menagerie of brief facts about each of the animals pictured in the book.

    I recommend this book for anyone of any age who is curious about animals. My 10 and 12 year old daughters enjoyed this book too and return to read it again. It's delightful!

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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    Love this book!!!

    This book is cleverly written. The mix of fun language and fact is perfect for kids and adults alike. My students wanted to do more research about the animals right away, and my two children fight over who gets to read it first. The illustrations match the whimsical feel of the poems to create a book that we'll read over and over for many years to come.

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  • Posted March 25, 2011

    Charming, Seussical book your kids will love!

    "Around the World on Eighty Legs" is a delightful book of pictures and poems about animals around the world. I bought it for my three year old (who loves animals) and he now asks to read it every night. The pictures are beautifully quirky and the poems that accompany them are charming as well as educational, often written in catchy, Dr. Suess-like rhymes. The animals range from familiar to exotic so there's something for everyone to enjoy. My toddler's favorite is the Anaconda, with its dangerous hug. My favorite is the poem about the Lion (and its subtle jab at gender roles!) I think this charming book is going to be a favorite for years to come.

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