"Ms. Worth brilliantly employs all aspects of the poet's craft." – The New York Times Book Review
Each of the exquisite twenty-three poems in this posthumous collection by Valerie Worth carefully distinguishes one animal from all other creatures and captures it in all of its wonderful singularity – from wasp to snake to wren. The way Worth perfectly illuminates the uniqueness of each animal in her precise and elegant free verse will delight both fans of her celebrated Small Poems and readers encountering her poetry for the first time.
Breathtakingly rich cut-paper illustrations by Steve Jenkins provide a perfect counterpoint to Worth's spare style, and together poetry and picture bring every animal vividly to life.
Animal Poems is a 2008 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.
About the Author
VALERIE WORTH (1933–1994) is the author of many books for children, including All the Small Poems and Fourteen More and Peacock and Other Poems, which appeared on Fanfare, The Horn Book's Honor List, and was a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year and a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year. STEVE JENKINS has written and illustrated many picture books, including Actual Size and the Caldecott Honor Book What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? He lives in Boulder, Colorado.
Reading Group Guide
Both Valerie Worth and Ted Hughes wrote poems entitled "Squirrel".
• How do you imagine the squirrel in the Valerie Worth poem? In the Ted Hughes poem?
• Compare and contrast the descriptions of the two squirrels. How are they similar? Different?
• What season do you think it is in the Worth poem? How do you know this? Can you tell what season the Hughes poem takes place in? Explain.
• Discuss the poetic form of each "Squirrel" poem: narrative, lyric, free verse, other?
• Both poets use rhyme in their poems. What effect does rhyme have on each poem?
• Imagery is used to create the mood and setting of a poem. It also affects the reader's senses. How does imagery affect the mood and setting of each poem? What senses are engaged when reading the poems?
• Does either poem make you think of or look at squirrels in different ways?
• Compare/Contrast: Have students complete a Venn diagram showing how the two poems are similar and different.
• Have students choose one of the poems and illustrate it.
• Have students write their own "Squirrel" poems using poetic elements such as figurative language; rhyme, rhythm, and repetition; and imagery.
• Choral Reading: Place students in groups of 3–4 and have them choose one poem to read aloud together. Encourage them to be creative in their reading and remind them that how they read the poems affects the mood and feeling of the poem.