At the Sea Floor Cafe: Odd Ocean Critter Poems

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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dexterous formal verse about sea creatures pairs with pleasingly abstract block prints in this informative, fun collection. A "kyrielle" shrewdly characterizes its elusive subject: "We don't know why the convict fish/ Lives so completely hermitish,/ Skulks hiding, never swims about,/ But eats its young then spits them out." Sidebars further educate readers about the menagerie, which includes bottlenose dolphins, sea spiders, and an egg sac–toting squid, while appended notes offer a crash course on poetic form. Beguiling lines like "Osedax, the legless worm,/ Lands on whale-fall, digs in firm./ Eyeless, mouthless, gills like plumes,/ Bone-devouring zombie blooms" should spark readers' interest in poetry and marine biology alike. Ages 8–12. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
How do you categorize a book full of delightful poems, intriguing sea creature facts, and the specifics on how to replicate the poetry forms? Librarians will wrestle with this problem, but finding readers for this book will be no problem. The verses are in no way generic ocean rhymes. They describe the habits of snapping shrimp, convict fish, narwhals (the possible model for unicorns), and other little known denizens. One short example is a haiku about jeweled anemone crabs: "Stalk-eyed hermit defends, each secondhand shell home, with anemone jewelry. Stunning!" Upside Down and All Around, is a poem about a violet snail written in a spiral, in another exceptional blend of words, facts, and visual form. This is certainly not a description of a snail you would find in most nature books! Information is expanded with prose explanations of sea creatures' habits and characteristics, and there is also an excellent glossary of oceanography terms. The facts presented open questions for discussion such as why the bottle-nosed dolphin prepares only its female offspring with survival skills. Curiosities like this will serve as the basis for intriguing lessons. Now for the added value: author Bulion devotes five pages to explanations of the poetry forms used in each piece so that readers can try their hand at each creative form. The book is awash is sea green and aqua, and the illustrations are naturalistic. The pictures are, however, background to the stellar qualities of the book's information and style. Add to this a compact size that will fit in a backpack, and you have an irresistible addition to both school and library collections. Perhaps a copy in both poetry and nature is in order so that the book is not overlooked. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 5–9—This collection of 18 poems about marine life begins with an invitation to explore. The first few lines of "Dive In!" read: "Let's visit a habitat shallow and deep/And boiling hot, where acids seep...." The fact that parts of the ocean are boiling hot is just the first of many surprises along the way. The word "odd" in the subtitle is appropriate, since the focus is on animals like the sea spider, which "...sports guts and eggs in its legs." Each poem is accompanied by a paragraph or two of factual information. Some selections are short, others are longer. Endnotes describe the many formal structures the poet uses, from double dactyls to Spenserian stanzas. The attractive design features appealing colors and block-print illustrations. Overall, this book is for an older audience than one would think at first glance. It will probably be best appreciated by middle school age and up, and will be ideal for some classroom settings. With its mix of poems and information, Stephen R. Swinburne's Ocean Soup: Tide-Pool Poems (Charlesbridge, 2010) is similar but for a younger audience.—Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781561455652
  • Publisher: Peachtree Publishers, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Pages: 48
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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