Pumpkin Butterfly : Poems from the Other Side of Nature

Overview

A whole new world right before our eyes. Look closely at the world around you, and you may see another world—a world where butterflies are the ghosts of pumpkins and an oak tree turns into a timber chimney; where raccoons are party animals, sunflowers blow jazz, and an ordinary egg is a source of wonder. In twenty-three thought-provoking and playful poems, elegantly illustrated by Jenny Reynish, Heidi Mordhorst invites us to look beyond, to see the other side of nature. Surprises await if only we open our mind's ...

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Overview

A whole new world right before our eyes. Look closely at the world around you, and you may see another world—a world where butterflies are the ghosts of pumpkins and an oak tree turns into a timber chimney; where raccoons are party animals, sunflowers blow jazz, and an ordinary egg is a source of wonder. In twenty-three thought-provoking and playful poems, elegantly illustrated by Jenny Reynish, Heidi Mordhorst invites us to look beyond, to see the other side of nature. Surprises await if only we open our mind's eye.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
The poems in this book celebrate the small things. Butterflies appear as the ghosts of pumpkins. Shadows dance on walls, our darker sides released by sunlight. Children take note of the world around them, talking to plants, or putting old Christmas trees up in a schoolyard before the first snow. The world presented here is seasonal, simple, quiet—but aware. Ideally suited for a classroom setting, where children can enjoy the poems one by one, savoring them individually as the year progresses, this book has widespread appeal, and could be used in primary grades as well as junior high. Its encouragement to consider the small things that surround us is refreshing in a world often filled with distraction and chaos, and its playful tone helps to avoid sanctimony. While it is not rollicking or hilarious, as are so many other books of poetry for children, the poems presented here will make them think—and, hopefully, will push them to notice what a wide, strange, and wonderful world we live in. It is a lovely work. Reviewer: Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco
Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Maryland poet Heidi Mordhorst begins her tribute to the seasons with poems rife with autumnal motifs: pumpkins, the "rusted heat" of fallen leaves and, of course, "frisky whisky" squirrels. Mordhorst's deft wordplay and carefully honed images cause us to look anew at the stuff of life, including a black cat, who is a "howl-yowl queen of prowl," a wintry sore throat called a "red dragon-horse" and the "pin-thin and brittle" shell of a spring egg. Jenny Reynish's delicate watercolors capture the look and different moods of each of these twenty-three free-verse poems. This lyrical treat can be savored year round, whether you're curled up by a crackly fire or lounging beneath a summer tree. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up—This mostly solid collection of 23 poems spans the four seasons through a variety of poetic forms and formats. While some will speak to middle grade readers, others reach toward the broader knowledge base of teens and adults, using sophisticated concepts ("Guest List: Charles Darwin's Garden Party" is a rhymed list of species of living things); conceits ("a gust of butterflies" rises from a pumpkin patch—"the ghosts of our pumpkins…untethered from earth"); and literary phraseology ("my dark doppelgänger/freed by the sun's high call"). Piles of fallen leaves, the behavior of squirrels and raccoons, angels in the snow, blossoming trees, summer shadows, insects, sunflowers, and lightning storms are the subjects here. Reynish clearly enjoys using elements of ethnic- and folk-art decoration and detailing in her colorful watercolor paintings that create frames or backgrounds for many of the selections. Douglas Florian's Handsprings (HarperCollins, 2006), Joyce Sidman's Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow (Houghton, 2006), and J. Patrick Lewis's July Is a Mad Mosquito (S & S, 1994) would make good companions to Mordhorst's volume because each of these fine collections offers an entirely different sort of poetry on nature and seasons.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of 23 nature poems cycles through the seasons, emphasizing the play between the outward and the hidden realms. The vocabulary and imagery stretch the maturing apprehension of young readers: "Botanical Jazz," about a sunflower, says, in part, "you're breaking our eyedrums / trumpeting all that color and sun / blowing that blazing yellow jazz . . . ." The use of contrasts-"heavy pumpkins and light butterflies"-vividly convey an observant look at what is often overlooked. Bright orange endpapers mirror pumpkin color, prefacing the title poem. Reynish's decorative illustrations reflect a thoughtful and purposeful artistic hand. A fuzzy chick in an outstretched hand, cherries scattered across another page, a pile of decaying leaves, a wintry scene and a starry-night-filled room enhance the more accessible poems. While some poems are readily within readers' grasp, others are more obscure, with a sophistication that exceeds the young-looking format. Guided reading will expand understanding and appreciation of these lovely, often challenging poems. (Picture book/poetry. 8-14)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590786208
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,033,907
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Heidi Mordhorst has been a teacher for twenty years and a poet for twice that long. She lives in Bethesda, Maryland. She gets her ideas while out walking to music, cooking, writing in her several notebooks and journals-and very often while listening to kids.

Jenny Reynish is a fine artist who uses a variety of media, including oil, egg tempera, watercolor, and mixed media. Much of her inspiration is drawn from travel, and many of her paintings are concerned with journeys. She enjoys using elements of ethnic and folk-art decoration and detailing. She lives and works near Colchester in Essex, England.

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