Friday, July 03, 2009

African Acrostics

Harley, Avis. 2009. African Acrostics: A Word In Edgeways. Photographes by Deborah Noyes. Candlewick.

I never know what to expect from a poetry book. Will it be entertaining or intimidating? Fun or boring? I was pleased with African Acrostics. Each poem--each acrostic to be precise--is paired with a photograph of an animal.

There are eighteen animal poems in all (if I can count correctly!) and three of these are extra-special. Two poems are double acrostics whose first letters and last letters spell out words. And one poem, Impalas in Peril," is even more special--five vertical arrangements can be found in that one!

And the poems are good--many quite clever. It would be hard to choose which ones were my favorites. I thought they were all well done. But my favorite would probably be "Above All" (the giraffe one) whose acrostic spells Cloud Friends.

Above All

Celebrate these
Long-standing giraffes,
Up clouds and eaves-
Dropping on the wind!

In airy
Nibbling on high, they
Decorate the

The book also features an introduction and explanation to the concept of acrostics. Not a poet? More of an animal lover? Don't worry. There are extra-notes for you too. The book features "nature notes" about all the animals featured in the book. The note about giraffes (to match the poem Above All) is as follows:

The giraffe is the tallest land animal, and its neck makes up one third of it's height. The tallest giraffe ever measured was 19.3 feet (5.9 meters) in height. To feed its huge body, a giraffe must spend sixteen to twenty hours a day browsing shrubs and trees. Giraffes do not have leaders in their small herds, and they are very social creatures.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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