Around the World on Eighty Legs

Amy Gibson, illus. by Daniel Salmieri, Scholastic Press, $18.99 (56p) ISBN 978-0-439-58755-6
First-time author Gibson's collection of poems cleverly presents creatures from all across the globe in witty, rhythmic, and well-crafted verse. Instructional and entertaining, the poems nicely balance information with humor and wordplay (additional animal facts appear at the end). Of the electric eel, Gibson says, "It's eelamentary,/ dear Watson,/ this one's got a/ lot of/ watts on." Although most of the poems are amusing, a few are more poetically descriptive—the arctic fox is "Quiet as a whispered prayer" and the snow leopard "slips through the snow... on velvet paws and velvet toes." Emphasizing humor over naturalism, Salmieri's (Those Darn Squirrels!) illustrations match the playfulness of Gibson's verse point for point. An angry bird shakes its wing at a skua that has snatched its worm ("A pirate with a scrappy streak,/ the skua's got a lot of cheek"), and the illustrator plays up a camel's grouchiness, the lazy euphoria of a koala's life, and the futility of a warthog's attempt at beauty sleep. Kids will likely be spurred to seek out more information on less familiar creatures like the pangolin, agouti, and hoatzin. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/2011
Release date: 03/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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