This Is a Tiny Fragile Snake

Groundwood. Feb. 2024. 36p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781773067841.
K-Gr 3–Ruddock (Last Hummingbird West of Chile and other novels for adults) presents 15 poems about encounters between humans and animals that trace a subtle route through spring, summer, and fall, then wrap up with a winter poem about all of the animals. From snake to ant to bear to moose, every animal is treated with kindness and respect. Racially diverse characters not mentioned in the poems are the presumed narrators, but the poems ring true enough to believe they are based on the author’s own experiences. While the poems feature bits of narrative that will keep a contemporary audience engaged, the structure and rhyming patterns feel very much like contemporaries of Robert Louis Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses. For example, in the poem about the heron: “Canoeing on this quiet coast/ we see them rise blue-gray as ghosts/ but never do they travel far/ around the next point, there they are!” Barron’s illustrations are vibrant, contemporary cut-paper collages of fairly realistic people and animals with abundant, nearly tactile texture and detail to keep young readers perusing the pages.
VERDICT A solid purchase for collections with animal-loving or poetry-loving readers.

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