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Friday, April 15, 2011

Around the World on Eighty Legs, written by Amy Gibson and illustrated by Daniel Salmieri. Scholastic, 2011. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"If you slosh through a bog,
you might find it worthwhile -

Stop and pause -

Are those jaws?
(Or a log with a smile?)"

Amy Gibson takes her readers on a trip of discovery that begins in the Andes and the Amazon, where she introduces howler monkeys, anacondas and includes one of my favorite poems from the collection:

"Poison Dart Frog

In fairy tales
you kiss a frog,
and he becomes
a prince.

The very thought
of puckering up
to this one
makes me wince.

He's filled with
potent poison -
you'd drop dead
upon the spot.

He's handsome, yes -
bright blue and red -
Prince Charming,
he is not."

Blame my love of fairy tales, poetry, or humor...each one has its place in just one of these zany, smart poems. We visit five continents (sans North America and Europe) and meet some of the animals that are indigenous to the area. Each of the poems is informative while also tickling the funny bone, and making the reader think. The lengths and the forms differ. Some of the animals described are familiar, some are decidely not well-known:

If you chance
to meet a hoatzin,
you will likely flee
the spot,

for the leaves
that churn and turn
inside his stomach
reek of rot -

So you'll smell him
'fore you see him
(but you'll rather
you had not)."

Join us on the journey, you won't be sorry! And if you don't learn enough just reading the poems and perusing the fun-filled watercolor artwork, check out the final pages where the author offers up a
'menagerie of facts'. There she adds 'stuff' she couldn't put in her poetry. Lucky we are to share such books during National Poetry Month. Get traveling!

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