Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cousins of Clouds Elephant Poems

School Library Journal (April 1, 2011) Gr 3-6-This slim collection of poems and factoids celebrates the "wonders of elephants," from glorious winged creatures of myth to the realities of their precarious modern existence. With a wide-ranging stock of lore and fact, Vaughn limns the complex relationship between humans and the largest land animals. In "Inspiration," she observes that their image is "etched in the imagination/of all mankind,/a behemoth of hope." Poems like "Ivory" and "Grace," however, remind readers that elephants have been hunted and used for hard labor and public performance. The poignant "Beggars of Bangkok" offers a sad glimpse of the animals uprooted and trapped in an urban landscape. This collection offers food for thought in its array of facts and gentle verses, along with its naive, mixed-media collage art. "Fortress" graphically depicts the protective instincts of female elephants, while "Elephant Blues" places cartoon drawings and verses atop colored sheets of music. On an eye-catching spread, "Memory" evokes the humanlike emotions of elephants: "She detours through brush/to caress the sun-bleached bones/of her lost sister." This well-crafted book has terrific classroom-connection potential, and should resonate with a wide audience of animal lovers.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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