The Beauty of the Beast: Poems from the Animal Kingdom
Jack Prelutsky & Meilo So
Knopf, 2006 (1997)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
ack Prelutsky has selected poems for this delightful collection,
The Beauty of the Beast
, in five categories:
In Trillions We Thrive
(ant to daddylonglegs);
Jubilant, We Swim
(trout to crab);
Dragons in Miniature
(tortoise to frog);
(crow to ostrich); and
Wrapped in Coats of Fur
(kangaroo to whale). Meilo So's delicate watercolors embellish the verses and feed the imagination (the owl in particular is splendid).
enjoyed Odette Tchernine's gnats much more than I like the reality: '
The gnats are dancing in the sun ... Darting, jiving, / Target-diving. / In orbit on orbit of dazzle-gold light, / The gnats are limbering up to bite.
' William Sharp aptly describes the wasp as '
A tiger soul on elfin wings.
' And I love Moritake's '
Fallen petals rise / back to the branch - I watch: / oh ... butterflies!
' Mary Ann Hoberman's
fizzle with energy, and her
is outstanding. Colin West reminded me of Ogden Nash (whose verse is also in the collection) in: '
The tortoise has a tendency / To live beyond his prime, / Thus letting his descendants see / How
will look in time.
' Maxine W. Kumin calls her alligator '
old dinosaur cousin, / with scales by the hundreds / and teeth by the dozen.
ack Prelutsky tells us (in a poem that reminded me of a Gilbert and Sullivan song) '
you'll never find a finer bird / than the multilingual mynah bird.
' Ted Hughes speaks of '
The Loon, the Loon / Hatched from the Moon
', while Jane Yolen shows how '
mallards on a pond
' engage in
. X. J. Kennedy tells us that '
there's nothing like / A bat to clear the air.
' And you have to feel for Michael Baldwin's
Small Brown Bear
, who eats '
ice salmon / all waterfall slippery / till his teeth ache.
' Several canine and feline rhymes include Esther Valck Georges' charming
A bit of jungle in the street / He goes on velvet toes, / And slinking through the shadows, stalks / Imaginary foes.
' While Tony Johnston's beagle pleas as he drags his owner everywhere, '
Please don't be cross. / My nose is boss.
an you tell I love these poems about all the beastly beauty surrounding us in the outdoors? Read this collection of rhymed natural history together - it's a delight for all ages.
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