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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Flutter & Hum: Animal Poems. Written and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Henry Holt and Company, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2015. $19.99 ages 4 and up


It's okay
to stare at
the parrot.
Go ahead!
The parrot
is like a flower
that talks:
Pick me!
Pick me!"

There are 12 poems in this quiet, lovely book. Written in both Spanish and English, Julie Paschkis proves herself as adept at using language as she is at observing those animals she includes in its pages. I would love to hear the poems spoken in Spanish. They make me wish I could read them myself.

To prevent my going on to share each and every lovely one, I will tell you about just one of my favorites.


through the grass
the sinuous snake
is writing
a slippery poem
with his body.
But his alphabet is
too simple.
He only knows
one letter:

As if that weren't enough, you must see the gouache illustrations that so uniquely capture the image created by this poem. A snake slithers across a double page spread festooned with waving grasses. The words that adorn those green and brown spikes are subtle, shy, sum, see, swallow, sway, say, serious, so, sip, swivel, sonnet, song, sigh, shush, sly, slow, sibilant, still, serpentine, secret, see, silence, swerve, since. On the facing page, a Spanish translation of the poem and its accompanying grass blade words. Captivating, and a lesson in word gathering that is sure to help budding poets try their hand at creating animal poetry for themselves.

Funny at times, always intriguing, and filled with language that inspires; this is a collection of poems to be savored at home and in classrooms. An author's note adds context and quite an amazing look at the author's process. The colorful artwork is energetic and appealing for all readers, awash with many details that will make you smile with delight.

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