Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Poetry in the Classroom - Where in the Wild?

I discovered this gem of a book last fall while preparing a thematic book list on camouflage. A few weeks later, a copy arrived on my doorstep as a Cybils nominee (and later finalist) in the picture book nonfiction category.

The book is Where in the Wild?: Camouflaged Creatures Concealed ... and Revealed. In it you will find (as stated on the cover) "ear-tickling poems by David Schwartz and Yael Schy" and "eye-tricking photos by Dwight Kuhn." I can't disagree. The book begins with a brief introduction to camouflage and the book itself. Here is an excerpt.
Imagine that you are an animal in the wild trying to avoid a prowling predator. If it can't find you, it can't eat you.

Now imagine that you are the predator, silently hunting for prey. If you prey does not see you, you can catch it and eat it.
See if you can find the camouflaged animals photographed in their natural habitats. The poems will give you hints. When you think you have found a hidden animal--or if you give up!--open the flap to see "where in the wild" it really is. Then read on to find out more about these amazing animals and their vanishing acts.
What follows are examples of 10 clever uses of camouflage.
On the left side of each spread is a poem describing the animal, and in some cases, its location. The outside of the gatefold on the right contains the picture that must be searched. Readers must be keen observes, as some of these animals are hard to find! In the corner of the gatefold is a small circle that says, "Lift to find me!" When the gatefold is opened, the image appears again, this time with everything grayed out except the animal in question. Often times, the appearance of the hidden animal is so startling that the reader must flip back to the original picture to search it out. In addition to the "answer" to photo puzzle, the inside of the gatefold also contains information on the animals subject.

The poems in the book come in a variety of forms, including haiku and concrete. Here is an example.

speckled treasures lie
     bare upon the pebbled bank
          fragile life within
The photograph that accompanies it shows a rocky landscape. Can you guess what is hidden in plain sight?

Overall, this is a lovely book, packed with poetry and information. You can hear a terrific podcast review of the book over at the Just One More Book! site. Once you've done that, be sure to download the educator's guide for the book.

David Schwartz wrote about poetry in nonfiction a while back. You can see some examples of other poems from the book there. I am crazy about nonfiction poetry and think it's a great source for both reading and writing to learn.

For those of you looking for additional information on camouflage, check out some of these resources.


  1. Tricia,

    I really like WHERE IN THE WILD?. What an excellent book to use across the curriculum! I was going to write a review of it for Nonfiction Monday--but I never got around to it. Your series of "Poetry in the Classroom" posts has been outstanding.

  2. Thanks, Elaine. The posts aren't getting many comments, so I'm a bit worried. I suppose I can hope that readers are so excited about what they're reading that they are running right out to look over these books!