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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's For Dinner, written by Katherine B Hauth and illustrated by David Clark. Charlesbridge, 2011. $9.95 ages 6 and up

"The scent
of fallen fig seeds
calls a rat to feed.

Rat's aroma
brings a boa
to its furry prey.

Rat gets a hug today."

National Poetry Month is coming to an end and I'm going to miss it! It's been such fun reading blogs, posted poems, and new books of poetry all in celebration. I won't stop reading poetry and telling you about it, but  it has been fun to focus on it over the past month.

Not only is What's For Dinner a  most enjoyable and welcome addition to the plethora of new poetry being published, it is equally good as a work of nonfiction. So much has already been said about this book and all of it well-deserved. Katherine Hauth must be delighted with its reception. Publishers Weekly called it "an enriching overview of the natural world spiced with a Dorothy Parker–esque sense of the macabre that children will absolutely relish.” I could not agree more!

Take a quick peak at the cover and you see the food chain in action, both frog and dragonfly glassy-eyed at what is about to transpire. There are twenty-nine poems here; they are informative, real, funny and often even surprising.  The poet regales her audience with the gory details of dining in the animal world and offers a blunt observation:

"They might seek meat,
or nectar sweet,
the white of eggs,
or yolk,
sleek fish, dead trees,
fresh blood, live bees,
or prickly artichoke.

But finding food
is not a joke.
Living things must eat
or croak."

There is much to be learned here. Katherine Hauth has done her research. David Clark adds depth and hilarity in his ink and watercolor artwork. Kids will come away more knowledgeable (as I am), having had a good laugh and wishing there were more of the same.

In case we haven't absorbed enough by the time we come to the end of the poems, the author adds a note called "More Words About the Poems", followed by detailed short paragraphs in her 'More Words About the Animals". One such entry is this one:

"Roadrunners eat almost everything: insects, fruit, small animals, and eggs. During spring courtship, the  male often wins his mate by offering her a lizard. Because roadrunners are so fast and their beaks so sharp,  they can kill rattlesnakes! Then they slowly swallow them headfirst."  Huh?

Now, let's end with another gem:

"If horsefly sets
on Venus flytrap,
you can bet -
that horsefly
will get et."

I can't wait to share each one of them, and listen to the 'eeewws!' Oh, and the laughter!

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