Animals in Surprising Shades: Poems About Earth’s Colorful Creatures

Mar. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781957655048.
Gr 1-2–This engaging collection of poems explores science and literature to describe some of the world’s more colorful creatures. Short, inviting poems geared for elementary students combine clever and engaging phrasing with facts about the creatures described. For instance, “Pink Manta Ray” begins: “In a/ sea of teal,/ a blink of pink!” Text on the opposite side of the spread explains that a pink manta ray was first spotted in 2015 and shares scientists’ theories about the creature’s unusual coloring. The poem is written in the shape of a manta ray, and a separate block of text notes that “A concrete poem takes the physical shape of the subject, like this manta ray.” Other poetic forms, such as haiku, tanka, and quatrain, are used and defined with other poems. An interactive component quiz challenges practicing poets further by asking, mid-book, “Can you match the poems on the pages that follow with the correct poetic form presented in the first part of this book?” Answers are in the back, along with a glossary and a list of sources. Poems are accompanied by bright and engaging illustrations described as “traditional gouache drawing and paintings...enhanced digitally in the artwork of each page.” These colorful spreads are a lovely complement to the lively poems. This combination of science and poetry should delight young readers, encourage young writers, and spur interest in young scientists.
VERDICT A STEAM-themed poetry collection that should have broad appeal for young readers and will be a welcome addition to the shelves. Recommended.

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