Looking for Jaguar: And Other Rain Forest Poems

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9780060297916: Looking for Jaguar: And Other Rain Forest Poems
From Booklist:

*Starred Review* Gr. 2-4. A tour of the most biologically diverse regions of the world, conducted with correspondingly diverse poetry, awaits young readers in a collection as useful in the science classroom as in language arts units. In many of her 19 sharply honed poems, Katz writes in formal verse that elegantly reflects the overarching design that governs the seemingly chaotic rhythms of the rain forest. In all, she speaks directly to her audience through child-friendly metaphor (an okapi is "a jigsaw puzzle put together wrong"), affable humor (the carrion-scented rafflesia "isn't a plant that tries hard to please ya"), and plenty of mind-boggling facts (a pair of poems, cleverly presented on facing pages, describe extreme species of antelope and frog, both "the size of a pet cat"). Though the soft edges of Christiansen's pastels blur the exotic details that many children will yearn for, his shadowy jade tones and misty textures nicely approximate the atmosphere of a dim, humid rain forest. An appendix defining the poetic forms used, which include pantoum and haiku-like lunes, would have made this book even more useful, but the existing factual endnotes sturdily support the book's informational purpose. Jennifer Mattson
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved

From School Library Journal:

Grade 2-4–Katz brings attention to a number of fascinating animals and plants, among them piranhas, walking trees, rainbow lorikeets, jaguars, and giant armadillos. The 19 poems are accompanied by a facts section and a two-page essay on rain forests and their significance. Unfortunately, though a few of the poems are memorable ("Anaconda" ably conjures the shiver-inducing terror of this giant snake), the majority are undistinguished in either sound or imagery. Both the first and last poems are pantoums: "Looking for Jaguar" creates a mood of dreamy watchfulness, but "Canopy" seems merely tedious with lines like, "We stand at the top of the world/In a garden of flowers high in the air./Among the billowing waves of green,/Bluebirds and hornbills feast on yellow figs." Christiansen's pastels add little. Using a murky green palette, the composition of many pages seems unfocused and forced. The art also fails to convey a sense of perspective, or to hint at the abundance of life. There are a number of better books on rain forests, ranging from Lynne Cherry's The Great Kapok Tree (Harcourt, 1990) and Jenny Baker's Where the Forest Meets the Sea (HarperCollins, 1988) to Brenda Guiberson's Rain, Rain, Rain Forest (Holt, 2004). –Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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