Mites to Mastodons: A Book of Animal Poems

Overview

From as little as the snail to as big as the giraffe, from the thundering mastodon of long ago to the ordinary backyard squirrel of today, the animals in this book inspire our imagination.

Here is a fascinating cornucopia that exudes a whimsical affection and respect for the creatures with whom we share our kingdom.

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Overview

From as little as the snail to as big as the giraffe, from the thundering mastodon of long ago to the ordinary backyard squirrel of today, the animals in this book inspire our imagination.

Here is a fascinating cornucopia that exudes a whimsical affection and respect for the creatures with whom we share our kingdom.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
What consistently comes through is both the author's and artist's exuberance for their subject.
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Kumin (The Microscope; Up Country, for adults) returns to children's lit with 19 poems that rove from whimsically anthropomorphic to factually accurate. Arranged by the size of the creature described, the first 10 poems-featuring tiny mites, the snail, polliwog, gray squirrel and cat, among others-appear on single pages, while the final poems, which muse on larger beasts such as the manatee, camel and kangaroo, merit longer treatments and full spreads. Kumin sometimes utilizes familiar conventions for children's poetry, as in the rhymed couplets of "Rabbit" ("Nobody needs to wait while he eats/ his Brussels sprouts or cabbage or beets"). But there's much that's fresh and subtly challenging for kids, too, as with her frequent use of near rhyme. In the 12 fact-based couplets of "Octopus," an authoritative narrator opines: "The plural, when there's more than one,/ is octopi. When fully grown/ they range from tiny-half an inch-/ to ones who could eat you for lunch." Zagarenski (the Good Beginnings series) takes an artistic leap here, with full-bleed illustrations that amalgamate a crazy quilt of techniques, from collage to computer graphics. Her animals range from the cartoonish mites to a more realistically rendered alligator (who nonetheless sports a crown). Indeed, many of the creatures wear hats or pants, independent of whether Kumin has humanized them or not. Given the poetic and artistic liberties taken, a single font would have served to unify the collection. What consistently comes through is both the author's and artist's exuberance for their subject. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-This collection of humorous poems by the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet does not stand out among similar titles. Kumin's traditional verse and conversational style suit the lighthearted tone of her pieces, and she sometimes stretches rhyme and meter-with varied results. Compare these four lines from "Giraffe," the first two successful, the second two less so: "His eyesight is so sharp that he/can spot you half a mile away./To drink, he either must fold down/his forelegs or straddle the edge of the pond." Zagarenski's bold and vibrant mixed-media illustrations are energetic in layout and match the selections perfectly. However, multiple titles by Douglas Florian, Richard Michelson, Alice Schertle, and J. Patrick Lewis offer more accomplished animal poems, and The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom, edited by Jack Prelutsky (Knopf, 1997), is a wonderful anthology. For large collections only.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Kumin, a distinguished poet and winner of the Pulitzer Prize, offers 19 rhyming poems that each focus on one specific creature in this somewhat uneven but beautifully illustrated collection. Her subjects range from the miniature (tiny spider mites or snails) to the immense (giraffes or mastodons), and she also includes a poem that explains the concept of extinction. Many of the poems are small, polished gems with tight, satisfying rhyme schemes; a few meander along with unclear rhythm and some word pairs that merely nod in recognition without really rhyming. Several of the longer selections incorporate significant information about the subject into the poetry. Zagarenski's exuberant mixed-media illustrations use glowing colors, unusual perspectives and inventive touches such as tiny hats or jackets to make the animals even more appealing. One delightful illustration shows an alligator with a crown lumbering through a swamp; the same creature is featured on the final page with the humorous farewell, "See you later . . . " (Picture book. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618507535
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/25/2006
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 9 - 11 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Caldecott Honor Medalist Pamela Zagarenski is a brilliant painter of many worlds. As well as illustrating picture books, she creates sculptures and large paintings, which can be viewed at an art gallery in Mystic, Connecticut. She divides her time between Stonington, Connecticut, and her house on Prince Edward Island.

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