Monday, May 31, 2010

POETREES by Douglas Florian

Writing poems about trees is one tall order. So tall, in fact, that this book opens with the spine on top, and not to the left (in the same manner as Wabi Sabi by Mark Reibstein & Ed Young). The book contains 18 poems, and has all the bells and whistles that make me a happy girl: table of contents, glossary (entitled a "glossatree"), which provides facts about each of the poems in prose, along with a charming Author's Note ("Over the years those trees have grown taller and wider in girth, just as I have"). Best of all, it has page numbers. Page numbers (especially in conjunction with a table of contents) make me so happy, I can't even tell you.

There are poems about different species of trees - oak, coconut palm, baobab, sequoia and more - and poems about parts of the trees, like roots, bark, leaves and tree rings. The poems

The first poem, "The Seed" is a shape poem written in the form of an infinity symbol, accompanied by an illustration showing the inside of a seed.

"Inside this seed you'll find a stem and leaf that grow with rain
into a trunk and branch and leaf and seed that starts again."

The poems are a nice mix of rhymed couplets, doggerel, list poems, and cross-rhymed stanzas. They are playful and informative and, in some cases, lyrically lovely, and each of the poems is accompanied by a pice of Florian's artwork, which is a combination of painting and collage, as best I can tell.

To the left, you can see the two-page spread that is "Giant Sequoias". Here's the text (bolding from the original):

Giant Sequoias
by Douglas Florian

Ancient seers
Of three thousand years.
Heavenly high.
Friends to the sky.
Spongy thick bark.
Large as an ark.
Gargantuan girth.
Anchored in earth.
Grow by degrees
To world's tallest trees.
Never destroy a
Giant sequoia.
I bought my copy of this book at Children's Book World in Haverford. A must-buy for classrooms and libraries everywhere, and for people who have a thing for nature - especially trees.

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