Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Wild Animals from Britain

One of my favorite things about blogging has been the opportunity to connect with fellow poetry lovers and poets so easily. (Thanks, readers!) Recently, this has been particularly true on an international scale—as I “meet” people who live in other countries from Canada to New Zealand and beyond.

Graham Denton is one wonderful example. I have really come to appreciate this poet and anthologist’s work as well as his enthusiasm for young people and their poetry. I’ve just read his latest book, Wild! Rhymes That Roar, co-edited with poet James Carter, published this spring. It’s a fun, handy paperback anthology of animal poems by a great variety of British poets (and at least 2 Americans!) who are probably household names across the ocean. (You know how I enjoy discovering new poets and poets-new-to-me!)

The poets in this anthology include editors James Carter and Graham Denton as well as June Crebbin, Gerard Benson, Judith Nicholls, Joan Poulson, Marian Swinger, Libby Houston, Sue Cowling, Eric Finney, Tony Mitton, Pie Corbett, Robert Scotellaro, Coral Rumble, Nick Toczek, Ann Bonner, Moira Andrew, David Harmer, Patricia Leighton, Roger Stevens, Mary Green, Gina Douthwaite, Jan Dean, Celia Gentles, Cynthia Rider, Mike Johnson, Matt Simpson, Clare Bevan, John Rice, Carol Coiffait, Kate Williams, Wes Magee, Jean Kenward, and our very own Rebecca Kai Dotlich and Jack Prelutsky.

There are about 60 poems in 6 categories, including:
  • Green Things
  • Minibeasts
  • Amazing Mammals
  • Winged Things
  • Wild ‘n’ Wet
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
The poetry runs the gamut from silly to serious in short, descriptive rhymes that are ideal for reading aloud. There’s even a nice variety of forms including several concrete or shape poems, LOTS of haiku, and PLENTY of rhyming poems. I also enjoyed the Britishisms sprinkled throughout the poetry like “colour,” “pyjamas,” and “Mum” as well as references to “hedgerows” and less familiar trees and such. I think kids will have fun encountering these bits in the poem’s contexts, too.

The animals depicted also reflect appealing diversity from the exotic eel, oyster, axolotl, lobster, crocodile, komodo dragon to the more typical bear, monkey, elephant, bee, mosquito, cockroach, crow, and spider. Playful pen and ink sketches accompany some of the poems, but kids will certainly enjoy researching more images and information about many of these animals—and drawing their own pictures to go with the poems. With a rockin’ hamster (or guinea pig?) on a psychedelic red-yellow-blue starburst cover, it has immediate visual appeal that is matched by the potpourri of poetry inside. Here’s just one sampling from poet and co-anthologist, Graham Denton himself.

Mynah Problems
by Graham Denton

The mynah bird
has quite a gimmick-
you’ll find that there’s
no finer mimic.
I’ve heard, if taught,
one of these birds
can learn up to
a hundred words.
But, as it mocks the
things it hears,
be careful what goes
in its ears;
a mynah’s quick
to pick up speech
you likely didn’t
mean to teach,
which they then go
about repeating…
and make you wish they’d
stick to tweeting.

Carter, James and Denton, Graham. 2009. Wild! Rhymes That Roar. Ill. by Jane Eccles. London: Macmillan, p. 52.

Image credit: www.jamescarterpoet.co.uk

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2009. All rights reserved.


Bedasaurus said...

I'll have to check this out with my kids. Going to check Amazon now. Thanks.

Unknown said...

i like this and i am sure that ma children will like the poems aswell