cover image Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures

Kwame Alexander with Mary Rand Hess and Deanna Nikaido, photos by Joel Sartore. National Geographic Children’s Books, $15.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4263-2767-4

Sartore, founder of the Photo Ark project—which aims to photograph every animal in captivity amid threats facing many creatures across the globe—teams up with Newbery Medalist Alexander and collaborating writers Hess and Nikaido to provide an up-close look at dozens of animals, in poetry and photographs. Haiku is the form of choice for the poems, though the writers play loose with syllable counts. Most animals get their own poems (“homes of courage/ on humble backs/ this is not a race,” reads one, as four ploughshare tortoises sit side by side against a white backdrop), though some poems reference multiple creatures. At several points, full-page gatefolds expand to accommodate many more of Sartore’s photographs, as well as a multistanza poem titled “Chorus of Creatures.” Unfortunately, there’s a lingering sense of a mismatch between the scope of the project and the format of the book. The grids of images on the foldout pages hardly do justice to the striking detail in Sartore’s photos, and the discursiveness of the longer poem clashes with the brevity of the three-line poems appearing throughout. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)