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Poetry and pictures capture imagination


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

- Around the World on Eighty Legs by Amy Gibson, Scholastic, 56 pages, $21.99

- Dark Emperor and other poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, Houghton Mifflin, 32 pages, $21.50

- Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, Henry Holt, 40 pages, $19.50

The League of Canadian Poets celebrate poetry month in April, and these new children's picture books rhythmically balance words and art.

Amy Gibson turns her attention to animals in Around the World on Eighty Legs. I didn't actually count the number of legs in Daniel Salmieri's delightful cartoonish illustrations, but the poems highlight over 50 animals from anaconda, auk and agouti to tiger, warthog and yak - some without legs at all. The short snappy poems perfectly match the whimsical artwork. Of the ocelot, Gibson writes: "It may be true that ocelot has got an awful lots of spots (an awful, awful, awful lot). But please don't call them polka dots.

"Favourites include the lumpety lump, grumpety grump, bumpety bump camel, the stamping, stomping, tramping, tromping elephant, and the crocodile: "If you slosh through a bog, you may find it worthwhile - Stop and pause, are those jaws? (Or a log with a smile?)" Most poems are short and snappy as in the warthog: "Bless her heart, she tried her best, but never gets her beauty rest" and kangaroo: "Why hug the ground, when you can bound?" The usual animals are here but have you also heard of bilbies? basilisks? hoatzins?

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