Gr 3 Up-An eclectic collection of 17 short poems by Asian and European authors, Chinese nursery rhymes, a Sanskrit fable, and excerpts from Shakespeare and the Bible. The focus of the book, however, is clearly the stunning artwork. Seventeen common insects and two arachnids are depicted in whimsical, eye-catching drawings that employ a variety of mediums. Set against pastel backgrounds, they include colorful collages of flower-patterned and jewel-toned paper, as well as acrylic and gold-leaf paints. Portions of these stylized drawings are also covered with tiny pen-and-ink replicas of the animal subject in different poses. Eight of the illustrations are three-page spreads, made possible by fold-out flaps, and a lush drawing of a Birdwing Butterfly employs two flaps, expanding over four pages in all. However, while many of the selections are of excellent quality, the majority have little child appeal. The nursery rhymes are the best entries. ``The Dragon,'' which also appears in Demi's previous anthology, Dragon Kites & Dragonflies (Harcourt, 1986), is refreshingly lighthearted. A two-page ``Afterword'' offers miscellaneous information about the animals included. Michael Rosen's amusing Itsy-Bitsy Beasties (Carolrhoda, 1992) is a better choice for young audiences, as is Richard Lewis's In a Spring Garden (Dial, 1989), which offers simple but effective haiku about some of the same small beasts. Demi's Secret Garden is a novelty book that will make a splendid gift for art students or adults with a taste for something different.-Karey Wehner, San Francisco Public Library
This opulent book celebrates the world of insects. Many of the pages fold out into three-page spreads, allowing space for enlarged ink drawings of insects, colorfully and intricately patterned. A single bug might be decorated with areas of flat gold superimposed with multiple ink drawings of the insect, flowery areas resembling wallpaper collage, and spaces of color broken into abstract patterns. Accompanying her artwork, Demi presents selections from the poems of English and American poets such as Keats, Shelley, Shakespeare, Whitman, and Rossetti, as well as short works by Japanese and Chinese poets. The artwork seems curiously detached from the poetry, though their subjects may overlap. Much of the poetry is inaccessible to children, but the pictures will intrigue both kids and adults. For libraries where Demi's books are popular, that may be reason enough to purchase the book.