Sunday, January 23, 2011

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen

Joyce Sidman puts out one fabulous poetry book after another. How does she do it? I've already blogged about Red Sings from Treetops and Ubiquitous. Her latest collection is all about nighttime activity in a forest. Rick Allen's woodcut illustrations in muted colours are so lovely that I want these pictures on my walls.

Each thing has its own poem, plus a brief sidebar of scientific information. We learn that the red eft, for example, is the land-dwelling stage of the red-spotted newt. After two to four years as a land-roving eft, they fade to an olive green colour, return to the water, and grow gills once again. Although the 'Ballad of the Wandering Eft' doesn't appear until the page 24-25 spread, the little red creature can be found wandering in all of the preceding illustrations.

My favourite poem is 'The Mushrooms Come' because of language like this: "they shoulder up / without a sound; / they spread their damp / umbrella tops / and loose their spores / with silent pops. / Unbuttoning the forest floor, / the mushrooms come, / the mushrooms come."

A delightful book for all ages, from preschool to adult.

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