cover image Alphabestiary: Animal Poems from A to Z

Alphabestiary: Animal Poems from A to Z

Jane Yolen. Boyds Mills Press, $16.95 (64pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-222-5

Beginning with a lethargic anteater and ending with an African zebra, Yolen (Owl Moon) rounds up an ``eXtraordinary'' assembly of poems. She offsets the inclusion of some predictable old chestnuts-Alfred Tennyson's ``The Eagle,'' William Blake's ``The Tiger,'' Hilaire Belloc's ``The Yak''-by varying the tone and pace of the various entries. For each letter of the alphabet she supplies two to four poems; e.g., Jack Prelutsky and Ogden Nash offer light verse tributes to the ostrich and octopus, respectively, while Tennyson's iambic tetrameters describe the owl that ``in the belfry sits.'' Eitzen's (Cherry Tree) illustrations, somewhat crowded on these spreads, combine gouache, watercolor and cut paper; their bright cartoon animals ornament rather than respond to the substance of the poems. Yolen's own inventive poems-about the xyleborus that ``bores its way right through a tree'' and the iguana who ``slither[s]/ Yon and hither''-dot this cheerful anthology. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)