Friday, May 5, 2017

LS 5663.20 Review: Animal Ark by Kwame Alexander

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures
by Kwame Alexander
Photographs by Joel Sartore


Bibliography: 
Alexander, Kwame. Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures. New York: National Geographic Society, 2017. Print. 

Poetic Elements: When it comes to this specific book, the poetic elements are a bit lacking, mostly because the book focuses much more on the illustrations than on the poetry itself. When I first picked up this book as my selected poetry book for the module, I was excited about it. I am a fan of animals myself, and so I thought that the poems would be cute and about animals that I adore. The poems are written in haiku, which is fun and interesting because it is not something that you see very often. There is a little bit of rhyme, and the spacing and format of the poems can be very interesting as they move across the pages and photographs. Despite these things, the poetic elements were still a bit lacking in this book.

Appeal: Overall, this is not a book that I would typically pick up. As a middle school teacher, I usually stick to middle grade and young adult texts. Still, the title and cover were the first things I noticed, and I knew then that I did want to pick it up and give it a try. I believe that says a lot about its appeal upon a first view. Children and people of all ages will probably enjoy this book if they enjoy animals, though. While the amount of words in the poems are a bit lacking, the photographs will certainly appeal to readers as they are photographs like those that would typically be seen in National Geographic. Some students may be pleased that they are still getting poetry, but the text is limited in length and easy to understand.

Overall Quality: The quality of this book is quite good based on what it is supposed to be; a book full of beautiful photographs of animals that are endangered or struggling, and a few short haikus to go along with them. The illustrations really steal the show, though, so if someone is reading in hopes of getting wonderful poetry, they may not be satisfied with what this book has to offer for them. For a reader that wants a fun, quick read with beautiful photographs, they will be quite pleased with this book. They also get information about these struggling animals, which I found interesting as I made my way through the book.

The Poets: While I am not someone that reads a lot of poetry, at least when I am selecting books on my own, I certainly know who Kwame Alexander is. This is the second of his books that I have read this semester, and I reviewed one in an earlier module that I was quite pleased with, as far as poetry books go for me. He is a wonderful, well-known poet, and for that reason alone I believe that many people will pick up this book as well.

Layout: The layout of this book is typical for most picture books. There is a set number of pages that are filled with photographs and the brief poems, most of them occurring together on the same page. There is also a lot of extra information added onto the book. There is an introduction, as well as occasionally information about the animals featured in the photographs. The pictures are beautiful, and the way that the text forms around them is engaging and interesting as well.

Spotlight Poem: 

look into those eyes 
                      
                       full of secret
     
     places to HIDE

                    and

                         PLAY.

Like most of the poems in this book, there is not much to work with. Overall, formatting seems like it would be the best thing to cover with the poems in this book. Students could view and analyze the poetry, focusing on the formatting and spacing, and then determine why the poet chose to write the words in these ways. 

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