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from QUILL & QUIRE: Although adults may have forgotten this, any child who's been captivated by the rhymes, rhythms, riddles, and wordplay of Dennis Lee, Mother Goose, or Dr. Seuss instinctively knows that 'spieltrieb' (as the German critic Baumgarten called the impulse to play) is central to poetry.
In LEAP INTO POETRY, Vancouver poet, illustrator, and teacher Avis Harley adeptly demonstrates and defines the many playful pleasures of poetry. Using an alphabetical format, each of Harley's poems, which feature insects and spiders, embodies a poetic form, technique, or device. The book is a cleverly inventive amalgam of poetic glossary, entertaining poetry, and insect encyclopedia.
The insect poems delineate familiar poetic terms, like alliteration in a poem about ants catching sight of an amber necklace with an ancestor encased in a brooch, and the ballad form in a poem about a bluebottle fly. Most fun is Harley's treatment of uncommon poetic forms like the clerihew (a biographical poem) in a poem about Lambert the crane fly who falls in love with a light bulb. "My love turns on when twilight dims. Watt fun!" Harley makes the gradatio technique (a parallel construction of ideas in ascending order) crystal clear in a poem about a restless grasshopper: "I twitch. I hop. I leap. I fly."
Harley's lively, charming poems dexterously explain what could have been esoteric terms in an easly understandable and vividly concrete fashion. They are accompanied by her whimsical, colourful portrait gallery of eccentric insects.
In her poem illustrating the zejel form, Harley describes the beauty of a zebra butterfly in flight, and wonders "who can capture such a pleasure?" Harley does, and her poems show children all the fun there is in the chase of the right words and ways to make a poem.
—the author of ESCAPE PLANS, a children's novel