Okay, two recommendations for today.
First up is Pug and Other Animal Poems by Valerie Worth, illustrated by Steve Jenkins.
This is a collection of poems about fairly commonplace animals including various pets, insects, birds plus others that elicit some of their characteristics with beautiful language. Though the poems are evocative they are not overly profuse making them very manageable for elementary students. One poem I particularly liked was about a wood thrush, comparing his cry to the calls of blue jays and cardinals which fills “the air with Silver and water, A brilliant language Of leaves and rain Too rare for The human ear.”
Steve Jenkins illustrates the book with his characteristic paper collages that adds depth and dimension. The fox is warm and lively, the bull solid and textured like harden lava rock as described in the accompanying poem, and the firefly luminous. I love Steve Jenkins work (as many of you may remember from previous blogs) since he excels at capturing interesting and appealing aspects of animals.
These illustrated poems are in a word, delightful.
My second recommendation is Cat Talk by Patricia MacLachlan and Emily MacLachlan Charest, illustrated by Barry Moser.
My admiration for Barry Moser goes back a long way. Not in person but by proxy through his art work. He’s illustrated a lot of the big names in children’s literature such as Jane Yolen, Cynthia Rylant, Virginia Hamilton, Nancy Willard, Barbara Nichol, to name a few. Besides some of his own retellings of fairy tales, he’s illustrated many classics such as the Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling, The Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum, Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Few illustrators do watercolour portraits of animals and people like Barry Moser.
This is a picture book of poems about cats, told from the cat’s perspective. Princess Sheba Darling is oh, so beautiful, knows it and is not what you’d call humble about it either. Lily is happy as a barn cat around the various animals but is a little embarrassed about her new best friend – a mouse. Romeo is a gentle lover and there can never be too much love in the world, right? And, then there’s Simon, always playful, sometimes to his own detriment.
Barry Moser captures their personalities perfectly. Princess Sheba is elegantly draped with her long white, fluffy tail. Lily is totally enjoying her down time with her new friend. Romeo is all loving softness, rubbing up against a willing hand. And Simon is poised to strike at a pair of passing slippered feet.
Again, for the elementary crowd, this one will appeal to cat lovers especially.
There can be no doubt that these illustrators are true animal lovers.