Cousins of Clouds: Elephant Poems

Overview

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer has a long-standing affection for elephants, and it shows. This book is a celebration of these remarkable animals: their huge size, their affectionate parenting, their loyalty to one another and sometimes to humans, their voracious appetites, their amazing trunks, their enjoyment of mud baths. The poems, some in the voices of the elephants themselves, are richly varied in form and tone. Each is accompanied by a brief sidebar explaining, or expanding on, the information it contains. ...

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Overview

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer has a long-standing affection for elephants, and it shows. This book is a celebration of these remarkable animals: their huge size, their affectionate parenting, their loyalty to one another and sometimes to humans, their voracious appetites, their amazing trunks, their enjoyment of mud baths. The poems, some in the voices of the elephants themselves, are richly varied in form and tone. Each is accompanied by a brief sidebar explaining, or expanding on, the information it contains. Distinctive illustrations incorporating painting, collage, and found objects are a rich and playful counterpart to the text and may inspire young readers to create their own visual and poetic tribute to their favorite animals.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Elephants are the revered subject of Zimmer's lovingly crafted works. In one, a jubilant pachyderm describes the pleasures of mud-bathing ("slurp!/ thwonk!/ splat!/ Completely divine,/ muddy chocolate sublime/ splattered onto my skin—/ better yet, I'll dive in"), while a moving sonnet celebrates an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee: "Old friends reunite after decades apart;/ trumpets and rumblings as hopeful as light." Halsey and Addy's warm and expressive mixed-media collages incorporate vintage-looking illustrations and musical notation to emphasize the animal's various qualities, while avoiding overly anthropomorphic representations—while remaining attentive to the affection between a mother and baby elephant. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Purposeful, but both informative and heartfelt."—Kirkus Reviews

"Halsey and Addy's warm and expressive mixed-media collages incorporate vintage-looking illustrations and musical notation to emphasize the animal's various qualities...while remaining attentive to the affection between a mother and baby elephant."—Publishers Weekly 

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
The title of this magical book comes from a tale about how elephants, once winged creatures, were punished for quarreling by being grounded and having their wings turned into ears. This is just one example of the unique and imaginative poetry used to explain elephant behavior, physical structure, and habitats around the world. In insets on each page, facts about the massive beasts are tied to the poem along with charming and imaginative illustrations. There is nothing ordinary about this book. It assembles information about both Indian and African elephants (separate species) and embellishes what could be just another nature book with delightful and sometimes elegant poems, varying in form and length from haiku to many-stanzas long. The illustrations are organically keyed to the poems. The drawing of an elephant defined by the architecture of its parts is worthy of study. Think of an elephant's leg as a Grecian pillar or it's tale as a braided rope. Like the fable of the Blind Men and the Elephant, each reader will see each poem and picture as a small part of the whole. However, lucky readers can go back and find something new on each page they revisit. Further readings are suggested for those who wish to study the species, but this book stands on its own as a one-of-a-kind amalgam of poetry, information, and fanciful illustration. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—This slim collection of poems and factoids celebrates the "wonders of elephants," from glorious winged creatures of myth to the realities of their precarious modern existence. With a wide-ranging stock of lore and fact, Vaughn limns the complex relationship between humans and the largest land animals. In "Inspiration," she observes that their image is "etched in the imagination/of all mankind,/a behemoth of hope." Poems like "Ivory" and "Grace," however, remind readers that elephants have been hunted and used for hard labor and public performance. The poignant "Beggars of Bangkok" offers a sad glimpse of the animals uprooted and trapped in an urban landscape. This collection offers food for thought in its array of facts and gentle verses, along with its naïve, mixed-media collage art. "Fortress" graphically depicts the protective instincts of female elephants, while "Elephant Blues" places cartoon drawings and verses atop colored sheets of music. On an eye-catching spread, "Memory" evokes the humanlike emotions of elephants: "She detours through brush/to caress the sun-bleached bones/of her lost sister." This well-crafted book has terrific classroom-connection potential, and should resonate with a wide audience of animal lovers.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618903498
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 2/22/2011
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 984,805
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, a former middle-school teacher, is the author of three books, including Sketches from a Spy Tree, published by Clarion. She and her family live near Charlotte, North Carolina. For more information visit www.tracievaughnzimmer.com.

Sean Addy has illustrated a number of children'''s books, both on his own and in collaboration with artist Megan Halsey. He lives and works in Port Jervis, New York.

Megan Halsey has illustrated more than 40 books for children, several of which she also authored. Her editorial art has appeared in magazines and on book jackets. A former Pratt Institute professor, she now teaches at Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia and in the graduate program at Marywood University in Scranton, Pa. Megan lives in Lansdowne, Pa.

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