Friday, June 15, 2012

Review: A Strange Place to Call Home

The World's Most Dangerous Habitats & The Animals That Call Them Home. By Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Ed Young. Chronicle Books, 2012. (review copy). We just received this lovely book in the mail the other day. Wonderful poems featuring some of the hardiest creatures in our complex world, living in the harshest, most challenging environments. Singer uses a variety of poetic styles, from haiku to villanelle and free verse. Creatures such as flamingos living on salt flats, tube worms clustered near deep ocean vents, camels and mountain goats are marveled over and celebrated in skipping, swirling poems. None of the verses are too long or too hard to grasp, making it a delightful read for young and old. The EndNote gives a brief description of each animal and it's challenging habitat as well as an overview of the poetic forms. I found that reading the back pages and then the related poems in matching sequence made the most sense, enabling us to get the context of the environment and then understand the amazing adaptability of each life form.

What was really exciting for my son and me was that the same day we read the poem about urban foxes we actually saw one. We went for ice cream after dinner and as we were standing at the edge of the parking lot on the very busy main road of our suburb, we saw a fox run across the yard with a ground hog clutched in her mouth. My son called out "LOOK! A Fox!" and everyone standing around gasped in amazement. The fox looked over her shoulder at my son and just kept trotting along. We watched her run right up to the road and scoot across, disappearing into the bushes by the next apartment complex. She had a lovely russet red coat, perky black tipped ears, short pointy snout and fluffy white tipped tail just as you would expect. I think she must have been bringing home dinner to her kits. Here is the Singer poem from the collection, a cinquain for urban foxes:

urban foxes

They have
quit forests and
fields for sheds, flowerbeds;
forfeited wild berries for shrimp
lo mein.

It seems
an easy life,
but in close quarters, cars,
capture, and contagion take
their toll.

Foxes adapted to
city living find it
full of plenty - but plentiful
in risk.

Marilyn Singer

Friday Poetry is hosted by Mary Lee at A Year of Reading. Enjoy some wildlife this weekend!


Liz Steinglass said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm looking forward to reading the whole book. I've been seeing foxes lately near our home in Washington, DC.

Linda B said...

I was just talking with a group lately about the foxes in our neighborhoods, so beautiful, yet we wondered how they managed? What a treat for you and your son to see, & with a groundhog. The book sounds delightful, and the poem hits the mark, doesn't it? Eating plenty, but adaption must be a challenge. Thanks Andi.

Mary Lee said...

Life imitates art! WOW! Cool fox sighting and I can't wait to see the new Singer book!

Nicole L. said...

Thanks for sharing this book. I have added it to my order list!