Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Around the World on Eighty Legs: Animal Poems

Around the World on Eighty Legs: Animal Poems

Amy Gibson
Illustrator:  Daniel Salmieri 
Poetry Picture Book
For ages 5 to 8
Scholastic Press, 2011   ISBN: 978-0439587556

Imagine what it would be like to travel around the world, visiting all kinds of curious and interesting animals. Which animals would you want to meet? In this delightful picture book, Amy Gibson takes us to six of the seven of the world’s continents. She also throws in the Arctic for good measure.

The journey begins in South America where we meet a Howler monkey, an animal that has a voice “so piercing few can stand / their eerie calls at break of day.” Even more curious is the Basilisk, a lizard - with the name of a mythological creature - that is able to literally walk on water. If you think this is odd, then you should meet the Hoatzin, a bird that smells so terrible that “you’ll smell him / ‘fore you see him.”

Next we go to the “Far, far north and far, far, south.” Here we meet caribou, Arctic foxes, auks, penguins, and other creatures. We see large and ferocious predators like the polar bear with its sharp teeth, and tiny krill that serve as a “smorgasbord” for hungry whales and seals. The tiny shrimp are such an excellent source of food that “everybody wants to eat them,” but “nobody wants to be them.”

Amy Gibson goes on to tell us about some African animals (lions, rhinos, warthogs and others), and animals from Asia, and Australia. Though the poems are wonderfully silly, they also give the reader a fair bit of information as well. To add to this information, the author provides her readers with a ‘Menagerie of Facts’ at the back of the book.

Children who like animals are sure to enjoy this poetry picture book. They will appreciate the way in which the variety of poetry forms are beautifully paired with Daniel Salmieri’s funny and expressive illustrations.