Hoofbeats, Claws and Rippled Fins

Author: Lee Bennett Hopkins
Editor: Anne Hoppe
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 32 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.43 x 9.08 x 9.30
Publisher: Harpercollins Juvenile Books; (February 2002)
ISBN: 0688179436

(Il Bestirario Straordinario)



Grades 2-5--Featuring new work by such favorites as Karla Kuskin, Ralph Fletcher, Janet S. Wong, and Alice Schertle, this collection forms a unique whole. Most of the 14 poems are free verse. From Rebecca Kai Dotlich's "Porcupine" ("Bedazzled by bristles,/bewhiskered with points") to Tony Johnston's "Iguana" ("humble as a glaze of mud") to Lillian Fisher's "Camel" ("He feasts upon brambles/And ploddingly ambles"), each selection reflects upon a different animal. Alcorn's duo-toned woodcuts face each poem on varying pastel-colored pages, creating an elegant-if not immediately child-appealing-look. Various sizes of type and changing directions of lines add to the highly rhythmic quality of the poems. This design is done well, and brings the different tones together nicely. The anthology doesn't compare in scope to Jack Prelutsky's The Beauty of the Beast (Knopf, 1997), but provides new material for the same audience. Fans of Douglas Florian, Richard Michelson, Valerie Worth, or of any of the fine poets in this collection will find plenty to enjoy here.

-School Library Journal
Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Hopkins, the preeminent and prolific anthologist of children's poetry, teams up again with Alcorn for their second thematic collection (My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, 2000). This time, the collection focuses on 14 different animals, from the common, domestic variety to the more unusual. Several renowned poets are included (Lillian M. Fisher, Karla Kuskin, and Hopkins himself) as well as more contemporary poets (Ralph Fletcher and Janet S. Wong) and well-known authors who also write in other genres (Joseph Bruchac and Tony Johnston). The 14 poems are presented on jazzy, colored backgrounds with creative typographic treatments, including larger type for key words and several concrete poems (a fish poem with waves of words, an iguana's two-sentence tale curled into the shape of its tail). Alcorn's sophisticated relief block prints may not appeal to children at first glance, and the rather static cover design is not as dynamic as the art and poems inside. However, teachers will appreciate this fine work for its wide variety of poetic formats and the thought-provoking nature of the poems themselves, and with a helpful introduction by an adult, both art and poetry will find success with kids. (Poetry. 8-12)

-Kirkus Reviews

It wasn't an urge to play God that prompted Stephen Alcorn to reinvent the rooster, the cow, dog, owl, frog, tiger and even the Himalayan yak. It's more a case of "the divine discontent of the truly creative mind" that bars him from repeating what has been done before. In his prints, with Medici-like indulgence, Alcorn has permitted himself every whim. The plates are saturated with texture, the borders are bursting with design themes and the animals themselves are invested with heroic and magical powers. The cow is capable of infinite pales of milk, the frog will turn into a prince momentarily, the valiant horse carries his knight to victory, the cat can cast spells and make sad princesses smile.

-Marion Muller from Stephen Alcorn Reinvents the Rooster
U&LC, volume 16, number 3, summer 1989

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