cover image What If?: Just Wondering Poems

What If?: Just Wondering Poems

Joy N. Hulme. Boyds Mills Press, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-186-0

The very first poem sets the tone for this cheery collection of 29 poems about animals: ``The world is so full of astonishing things: / Spider spun silk, butterfly wings, / . . . / How come? And what if? / And suppose this were so? / It's exciting to wonder about what we know.'' Hulme asks children to consider, for example, ``how can gophers see where food is found,'' or ``how come a lizard looks so slim'' if he has ``layers of clothes on him.'' She ponders why a tiny flea ``can cause the BIGGEST itch of all'' and why a giraffe can't laugh. An inchworm (shown sporting a fedora) ``measures wherever he goes'' and a cricket (in ruffled knickers) sings ``by fiddling his wings.'' Decidedly uneven in craft, the poems sometimes shift rhythms, sometimes force rhymes, but nonetheless please with apt language and unexpected turns. The old toad, for example, ``sits like a lumpy gray stone / . . ./ Till quick as a zip / With a lickety flick / Of his stickety tongue / he snatches a snack / And sucks it back.'' Gorbachev, an emigre from Ukraine with more than 40 books to his credit, scores high marks for his Lobel-like watercolors that capitalize on Hulme's humor and whimsy. Ages 4-6. (June)