Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Pug and other animal poems

Pug and other animal poems

Valerie Worth
Illustrator:  Steve Jenkins 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 6 to 9
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013   ISBN: 978-0374350246

The world is full of beautiful and amazing animals, all of which perceive and interact with their environments in distinct and fascinating ways. When they encounter humans many of them run away, preferring not to get too close to us. Others are more curious, and they observe us from a safe place to see what we are going to do next. Then there are the animals that like to connect with us, like our pet dogs and cats.

   In this special poetry picture book Valerie Worth takes us into the lives of eighteen animals, most of which are wild creatures, and some of which share our homes with us. Some of the wild animals that we meet on the pages are creatures that we see in our yards and parks, or we catch a glimpse of them flying above our heads.

   The first animal we meet is a fox, a creature that we see only brief glimpses of, if we are lucky. It is such a reclusive animal that it is “Nearly a / Myth.” We may see its “Fiery tail” streaking by and perhaps hear the rustle of its “flickering / Feet.”

  Rabbits, though cautious, are less retiring and if we are quiet and still we can see them in the evening in the garden feeding on tasty nibbles of weeds and grass. They are pensive animals and seem to spend their time “in / Peaceful thought.”

   Quite different to these wild animals are pugs and dachshunds, dogs whose very appearance makes us smile whether we want to or not. Pugs have “googling / Eyes,” and “wrinkled / Brows” that give them a somewhat worried expression. They are solid, tough looking little dogs. Dachshunds are quite different, being long with little legs “Front and Back,” but “nothing / Propping up / The middle.”

   Throughout this book Valerie Worth’s expressive and image-rich poems are paired with Steve Jenkins’ extraordinary cut paper artwork.  The striking language and gorgeous images give readers a picture of animals that they will remember long after the book has been read and put away on a shelf.

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