In the Wild by David Elliott

img43412Lynn: Looking for a book of poems that will instantly engage students while demonstrating poetic form? Or are you looking for a gorgeous eye-catching picture book for story hour? Or are you looking for a book to enhance a research unit on animals? Look no further because the stunning In the Wild (Candlewick 2010) will work perfectly for all three requirements – and probably others that my coffee-deprived brain hasn’t thought of yet. Fourteen animals stalk across the pages, brought to life by Holly Meade’s dramatic wood block prints. From the leopard staring out from the cover to the polar bear blending into the snow, the illustrations skillfully capture the essence of each animal and Elliott’s verses highlight an important animal feature. Short and perfect for reading out loud, the poetry is sometimes playful and sometimes seriously thought-provoking. I loved the tip of the hat to William Black and Ogden Nash.

The focus group and I read this together and it yielded both giggles and conversation. The boys loved both the illustrations and the poetry and we returned to read the book again several times while we had it checked out from the library.  This is one of my personal favorites of the year too. Each time I read it I see or hear something new and I want to frame ALL these prints for my walls!

Cindy: Woodcuts are always a favorite illustration form for me, and the contrast between the black woodcuts and the more pastel shades of watercolor are perfect for young readers. These illustrations are well suited to the original animal poems that will make children think. The zebra poem questions the usual order of alphabet books that puts him last every time, and this one about the elephant has a novel twist that can also generate discussion.

Big, yet moves

with grace.

Powerful, yet delicate

as lace.

As to color, plain–

an ordinary gray.

But once we start to look,

we cannot look away.

When peaceful, silent;

when angry, loud.

Who would have guessed

the Elephant

is so much like a cloud.

Thank you to Write About Now for hosting this week’s Nonfiction Monday blog round-up. nonfictionmonday1

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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