January 18, 2018

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Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Picture by Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess & Deanna Nikaido | SLJ Review

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redstarALEXANDER, Kwame with Mary Rand Hess & Deanna Nikaido. Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Picture. photos by Joel Sartore. 48p. National Geographic. Feb. 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9781426327674.

NF-Alexander-AnimalArkK-Gr 3 –Opening with an earnest invitation to “see what we can save—together,” Alexander and Sartore have crafted a stunning journey through the animal kingdom. The book implores readers to pause and look each animal in the eye, to soak in the majesty and diversity of nature. Alexander’s haiku is lively and at times deceptively light, containing lines that carry with it the staggering weight of conservation and extinction, hope and loss: “grandfather of the hunt/FIERCE and FAST/and favored, forever?” accompanies a full-spread photo of the Malayan tiger, its gaze level with readers’. Not to worry, though—there is a bit of fun to be had, too, from the likes of an impossibly cute doe-eyed Bengal slow loris, poetry that recalls kid-friendly movement (leaps, stomps, howls), and typography that mirrors sound (for “coils of hiss,” the letters float up the page). Visual epiphanies also abound: the pairing of an African leopard and the similarly spotted bobtail squid inspires a sense of unity while highlighting, in exquisite photographic detail, their unique traits. A “Chorus of Creatures” midsection directly addresses readers and urges them to consider their actions and assist in caring for wildlife. Three foldouts identify the animals featured (the photos are part of Sartore’s larger Photo Ark project, which aims to photograph every captive species). VERDICT Ideal for sharing one-on-one or with a small group, this impassioned and timely call to reevaluate our relationship with nature is a must-have for poetry collections.–Della Farrell, School Library Journal

This review was published in the School Library Journal March 2017 issue.

Della Farrell About Della Farrell

Della Farrell is an Assistant Editor at School Library Journal and Editor of Series Made Simple

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