Book Review

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

From Nancy Gilson, our Columbus Dispatch colleague and children's book expert, comes a suggestion for a great new poetry collection that even has Central Ohio roots. Read on to find out more….

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry (185 pages, $24.95, all ages), edited by J. Patrick Lewis

Central Ohio's J. Patrick Lewis, the nation's children's poet laureate, has put together a big, beautiful book of poetry that combines works by favorite writers with impressive photographs - all about animals.

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry contains 200 brief poems - sharp and economical as all good poetry should be - juxtaposed with large color photographs of fierce, funny or fantastical members of the animal kingdom.

After the introductory section of poems about birth - titled "Welcome to the World" and including Jack Prelutsky's The Egg and David McCord's Cocoon, among others - the collection divides works into categories of critters including "The Little Ones," "The Big Ones," "The Winged Ones" and "The Strange Ones."

As Lewis says in his introduction, this is a book to be sampled at random. And, it doesn't hurt to read the poems aloud.

Favorite children's poets are here, too: Douglas Florian, Myra Cohn Livingston, Prelutsky, (Columbus's) Michael J. Rosen, Christina Rossetti, Jane Yolen - and Lewis.

As a sample of the collection's range and appeal, consider these two entries:

Carl Sandburg's Splinter:

The voice of the last cricket/across the first frost/is one kind of good-bye./It is so thin a splinter of singing.

The poem is paired with a larger-than-life portrait of the insect captured on a lush, green leaf.

And, Ogden Nash's The Eel:

I don't mind eels/Excepts as meals/And the way they feels, placed beside a photo of two of the squirmy things.

Accessible, entertaining and just plain gorgeous, the book is a fine addition to a child's library.

-Nancy Gilson