Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Poetry; Review of a Poetry Book

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways, written by Avis Harley with photographs by Deborah Noyes,  Candlewick Press, 2009. (review copy). This stunning volume is a fabulous example of the art of acrostic poetry, which many children learn about and practice in school. Harley has taken the form to a whole new level by crafting double, multiple, and cross acrostic poems which sing the unique atributes of the lovely African animals displayed in Noyes' photographs. Not only do the poems spell out descriptive words and phrases in the first and/or last letters up and down the poem, but each one includes other poetic devices such as assonance, alliteration, enjambment, and internal rhyme. Teachers striving to give students examples of "juicy" vocabulary combined in striking, vivid phrases will do well to feature this book prominently. Two of my favorite poems which clearly illustrate the fine craftsmanship in this collection:

Your Majesty

Lion looks so lazy, watching day-life pass,
Yet searing eyes are stalking shadows in the grass.
Inside a mighty golden throat, he stores his
Nightmare roar that sends his subjects
Galloping across the sunstruck floor.


Interest have zebras in
Leather tethers or
Dusty saddles?

Since only
The wind
Reins In their
Power, and sun so

These poems can be drunk in quickly in long droughts of gold and dusk or drawn out lazily to savor the multiple levels. The back of the book includes notes on the African animals, information about the poetic form, and information about the photography done on location in Namibia. I would strongly recommend this book for poets and children of all ages; to absorb, enjoy and learn from in delight and surprise. If you are building your classroom or home library in preparation for a new school year you need this poetry book added to your curriculum!

Other blog reviews: (more poems from the book & photos)

Miss Rumphius (also links to an interview with Alex Harley)
Kids Lit
Becky's Book Reviews

Today's Friday Poetry roundup is hosted by Heidi Mordhorst's my juicy little universe. Enjoy!


maclibrary said...

Ooh, this looks like a great book. Thanks for sharing.

Author Amok said...

I love how the sun plays a role in both poems. Thanks for sharing the review.

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Thanks friends! I had to put comment moderation on because of all the Chinese spam. I hope it doesn't discourage anyone from "real" comments.

Mary Lee said...

(Spam comments are the reason we have comment moderation on, too. Frustrating.)

I LOVE using this book to show my students models of acrostic poems that SAY SOMETHING. I work very hard to make sure my students don't write any of the acrostic drivel Heidi found on!

all things poetry said...

Thank you for highlighting this book, Andromeda. These poems are better than many of the acrostic poems I have read.

Laura Evans

Linda said...

I need to get this book for my classroom. Thanks for sharing it!

Amy LV said...

Hear hear!
These are great acrostics...thank you for renewing my faith in this form, Andromeda.

limegum said...

Hey, I just discovered your blog! Must say I'm quite impressed (and that book looks pretty awesome as well).
Nice to find a fellow book blogger ;-)

Karikalan said...

Excellent, can use these as a metaphor in some of my blogs. Thanks for sharing.