Friday, March 27, 2009

Book Review - Absolutely Wild

What does a love letter from a father to a daughter look like? In my case it was conducting science experiments in the basement or silently staring over a game of chess. (Love letters don't have to speak, you know, they just need to be felt.) For Kim Webster Cunningham those love letters came in the form of poetry. Knowing how much she loved animals and reading, her father wrote her a series of animal poems. Kim answered back by turning his poems into a book as a 75th birthday gift.

That book is Absolutely Wild, written by Dennis Webster and illustrated by Kim Webster Cunningham.
Before I talk about the poems, let me talk about the gorgeous artwork. I'm a sucker for block printing, and the hand-colored linoleum prints in this book are divine. They give the animals such character! The prints are highly detailed and are boldly colored. While most of the illustrations focus on the animals themselves or the animals in their natural habitats, a few are rather fanciful and include elements that reflect the content of the poem. For example, the illustration of the snail shows a house with a white picket fence on the snail's back. It is accompanied by this poem.
The Snail

The snail's a funny little fellow
Whose body seems to run on Jell-o.
He slips and slides along the ground
And never makes the slightest sound.
He only has one foot, and so
His speed is very, very slow.
Still, moving at all is hard, you know,
When you carry your house wherever you go.
In addition to the illustrations themselves, interest is added by the red and black decorative borders that enclose most of the poems and illustrations. For a closer look at the artwork you can preview pages at Kim's web site and Google Book Search.

The sixteen poems in this book cover species from the ant to giraffe. Written in rhyming couplets or quatrains, they are filled with a bit of science and a whole lot of whimsy. They're fun to read aloud as they bounce along. Here's one of my favorites.
The Gnu

Every good zoo should have a gnu
To help the local papers.
When they have nothing else to do,
Reporters watch their capers.
And newsmen reach the highest peak
Of journalistic joy
When headline type can proudly shriek,
"Good Gnus—It’s a Boy!"
This is a book that readers young and old will enjoy. It's fun, joyful and energetic in both word and illustration. I thoroughly enjoyed this romp through the animal kingdom and know you will too. Recommended with enthusiasm.

Book: Absolutely Wild
Author: Dennis Webster
Illustrator: Kim Webster Cunningham
Publisher: David R. Godine
Date Published: 2009
Pages: 32 pages
Grade: K-5
ISBN: 978-1567923759
Source of Book:
Review copy received from the illustrator.

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure you know that April is National Poetry Month but I thought you might be interested to know that I'm holding a Poetry Contest on my blog - with prizes. Check it out here:

    ”Poetry Contest”