This quirky collection of animal poems is organized around the five senses but young readers will have difficulty distinguishing between Ackerman's (A Natural History of the Senses) flights of fancy and the facts of nature she weaves throughout the poems. A combination of imagined balderdash and poetic panache, the poems seem only shallowly playful. A baby penguin, we're told prefers snuggling up to his "Mom's tummy/ but a human hand or rug/ also feels yummy." The poems wobble between authentic descriptions of animal life and whimsical, anthropomorphized dialogue. Baby penguins "[waltz] through their ice palace/ on Mama's feet," but also squawk, "Hug me!" In a poem about the vision required for a bee's "waggle"-dance, Ackerman announces, "Bees hate the movies,/ they loathe TV." Although readers will discover some lovely metaphorical nuggets buried in the technically proficient poems (the whale poem is especially noteworthy, split by S!s's elegant image of a humpback plunging down the spread), sometimes an initial, arresting image is coupled with a baffling non sequitur (e.g., "A stapler with its tiny fangs,/ cannot outwit/ orangutangs"). The alliteration and rhyme may pique readers' interest, but the concept of a stapler trying to outwit an animal seems strained. S!s accompanies each poem with skillfully rendered, one-color pointillist artwork resembling woodblock prints, as well as occasional boxes containing detailed spot art. A beautifully designed but unfortunately flawed collection. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)
As one would expect from the title, this collection of 15 poems (including the introductory one) all relate to the senses (touch, hearing, vision, smell, and taste), which for animals and humans are pretty much the same. The book design is interesting�Sis has drawn a very simple human face on the left-hand page with a solid color page opposing. On this page, one word that names the sense appears to introduce the poems by Ackerman that follow. Sis has also developed other more complex illustrations for Ackerman's poems. Among those that kids will find amusing is the one about owls in the section concerning vision. "Consider the owl: a pair of binoculars with wings, / all eyes, giant eyes that swivel and swing / to spy tasty morsels..." I enjoyed the one about the skunk in the section relating to smell. "'Oh yeah' / says the skunk. / 'You, just keep provoking / me, and I'll spray you with a smell / that's rotten and rancid / and scummy and beastly...' " The poems are printed in different colors � a plus and a minus, because sometimes the small type is hard to read, which is unfortunate because most of these do have kid appeal. 2002, Knopf,
Marilyn Courtot <%ISBN%>0375823840
Gr 3-6-Ackerman, a poet and naturalist who writes most often for adults, here turns her skilled hand (and ear, and eye, and voice) to children's poetry. There are 15 poems, 3 for each of the 5 senses, each one about a different animal. They are concise and compact, with a quietly humorous tone that sometimes veers into the kind of silliness that many kids love. For instance, she writes about the cow, "-every meal is grass with a side order of grass,/plus huge dollops of grass smothered in grass,/followed by grass chops and, for dessert, more grass." There are many fresh, friendly images that young readers will enjoy: "Consider the owl: a pair of binoculars with wings-." Various facts about the animals are seamlessly interwoven, and may inspire a little research on the nonfiction shelves. The pictures are subtle, a lovely match for the poems. Some are small, some larger, but all are precisely rendered, with evident feelings for the creatures shown. This is a small book with an elegant and perfectly scaled design. It is more similar to a jewel than to an ice-cream sundae-in other words, it may not have the wide appeal of the more colorful or broadly humorous offerings, but readers who want to go beyond the obvious will savor it.-Lauralyn Persson, Wilmette Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Poet and naturalist Ackerman (The Night Crossing, 1994, etc.) examines the five senses by way of the animal kingdom. In "Hearing," she talks first about the sounds of bats, which we cannot hear; then the sound of humpback whales; and lastly, of birds: "A bird does not sing because it has an answer. / It sings because it has a song." For "Vision," the way bees and owls, "binoculars with wings," view the world plays against how we perceive swans and polar bears and blue jays, with a tiny lesson in how light makes color happen. "Taste" fascinates with a certain amount of ickiness, "Flies taste food with their feet. / If it's good to dance in, it's good to eat." She finds all the myriad flavors of grass for a cow and the vicious daintiness of a leopard on the prowl. The rhymed verse is by turns giddy, extravagant, and thoughtful, and always unsentimental. S's (Scranimals, p. 1042, etc.) opens each section with a kid's round head, a labyrinth sketched where the seat of that sense is-at the mouth for taste, two labyrinth spirals for ears, etc. The poems have full-page images faced with text and a related vignette, S's's shimmering, calligraphic pointillism rendered in a single color, contrasts with the color of the sans-serif type font. Brown, black, blue, magenta, and green are used in saturated but subdued tones, and the whole makes quite a pretty piece of bookmaking. Good poetry, fine illustration, a bit of natural history gently rendered and more than occasionally funny-what child could ask for anything more than this exquisite little gem? (Poetry. 7-12)