Champion Chompers, Super Stinkers and Other Poems by Extraordinary Animals

Kids Can. Jun. 2023. 48p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781525303500.
Gr 3-5–Poetry meets nonfiction in a skillfully designed and fun-to-read compendium. An opening call to animal contestants moves right into a guessing game for readers, featuring 19 familiar and lesser-known air, land, and water animals. “Think you’re tops? The most? The best?” Facing the challenge, the righthand page sets a pattern with a hind view of a spotted animal tail and its blank verse poem titled “Eat My Dust.” When readers turn the page, they find a full view and name of the cheetah, its champion trait of “Best Short-Distance Runner,” and a paragraph explaining how this body is designed for lightning speed. Next up, on this facing page, a new partial view and poem. Simple, homely sketches of the animals are softly brushed with color, some set in white space and others in a bit of suggested background. Poems range from short-rhymed verses to nicely shaped lines, sometimes with embedded rhyme, flowing down the page. The closing page thanks the animals and reminds readers to watch for creatures in their world. The intriguing theme of “astounding feats and features” of animals and the nice flow of text invite reading. Back matter offers possibilities for further use of both poetry and science. A page on protecting endangered animals is followed by a bit of explanation about the work of scientists in measuring animal characteristics and a paragraph on mask poetry. “Recommended Reading” lists books of poetry about animals, while the glossary is all science terms related to animals.
VERDICT Put this multifaceted package on the science shelves, and use it often and variously.

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