Friday, April 4, 2014

PPBF: Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night

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Today's Perfect Picture Book Friday pick helps celebrate National Poetry Month.

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night
Written by Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by Rick Allen
Houghton Mifflin, 2010
Poetry and Non-Fiction, grades 3-6
word count 2604


Themes:
Poetry, Nature, Animals


Opening:

To all of you who crawl and creep,
who buzz and chirp and hoot and peep,
who wake at dusk and throw off sleep;
Welcome to the night.

To you who make the forest sing,
who dip and dodge on silent wing,
who flutter, hover, clasp, and cling:
Welcome to the night!

Come feel the cool and shadowed breeze,
come smell your way among the trees,
come touch rough bark and leathered leaves:
Welcome to the night.

The night's a sea of dappled dark,
the night's a feast of sound and spark,
the night's a wild enchanted park.
Welcome to the night!


Synopsis:
        Dark Emperor & Other Poems is a beautiful blend of poetry and non-fiction over the backdrop of a forest at night. Each left-hand page has a poem. Some about the night itself. Most are about animals which roam the night: raccoon, snail, cricket, baby porcupette. The right-hand page has a description of the animal and its habits. Half poetry, half nature guide, this lyrical book made me feel as if I were in the woods at night, everything stirring around me. No wonder it won a Newbery Honor.
       Rick Allen's superb relief prints illustrate the poems in stunning detail. Though the prints are beautiful in themselves, they also act as a perfect compliment to the text.


What I Love:
I like poetry. This book makes me LOVE poetry. This book makes me love non-fiction picture books.
It begins with a wordless double-page spread which works almost like an endpaper. The illustration shows an owl swooping out of the forest at dusk. Rick injects a bit of whimsy too as an orange eft makes his way across each page. My favorite poem is Oak After Dark - just lovely.
After the last poem, the hauntingly beautiful  Moon's Lament, this book closes as it opened, with a double spread of the forest. This time the illustration shows the breaking dawn. The whole forest, the whole night, captured between the covers of a picture book.

Bonus:
1.The author has an available reader's guide.
2. You can find an interview with Joyce on Seven Impossible Things.
3. You can purchase prints from Kenspeckle Letterpress.
From DisneyBaby.com
4. There's an interesting peek into the illustrator's process on Challenging the Bookworm..
5. Enchanted Learning has some educational materials on nocturnal animals.
6. Visit a zoo to see the animals up close, like San Diego, Philadelphia, or The National Zoo. If you can't be there in person, most zoos have informative websites.
7. NuggetsOfGold has posts basic diorama instructions which can be modified to depict nocturnal animals.
8. Oreo owl cupcakes are a delicious treat for storytime.
9. Here are some other Perfect Picture Books you might enjoy.

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Check out all the recommended titles for Perfect Picture Book Friday for April 4, 2014 available on Susanna Leonard Hill's excellent blog.

28 comments:

  1. I just added this to my library list. Love the poem and LOVE the cover!

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    1. Thanks. I think you'll be blown away by the art and the poetry.

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  2. This must be poetry week. I love that you say this about this book: This book makes me LOVE poetry. This book makes me love non-fiction picture books. You sold me!

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    1. I plan to review a poetry pb or a rhyming pb each of the Fridays in April in honor of National Poetry Month. Thanks for your comments.

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  3. A lot of poetry books this week. I really love what you shared. The cover and illustrations are stunning! Beautiful choice. Nice gift book.

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    1. Thanks. This book is stunning in every feature. I was so happy to find it at my local branch last week. Definitely on my list to buy for the school library.

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  4. This is a marvelous book. I love anything by Joyce Sidman, but this one is near the top of the list of her books. Thanks for getting the word out.

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    1. I'm glad to find another admirer. I wish I'd known about it sooner. It makes me swoon. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. This is a perfect selection for poetry month. But I can't keep my eyes off of those Oreo owl cupcakes - drooling on the keyboard!

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    1. Are you a single, or double Stuf kinda gal?

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  6. Great activities and what a powerful opening poem!

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    1. I love expanding on a topic through visits and activities. I'm glad you like my ideas too. I hope you enjoy the book.

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  7. I love Joyce Sidman, and this book looks wonderful! Love your activities, and love how you supply companion titles! Thanks, Joanne :)

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    1. I got a lot of positive feedback on the companion books I suggested a few weeks ago, so I thought I'd do it more often. Glad it is helpful. Thanks.

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  8. What a fascinating idea, to combine poetry and non-fiction. The poem you quoted is wonderful! I must add this to my tbr list...

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    1. I love PPBF, but it does make one's to-read list a bit unmanageable :) Thanks for your comments.

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  9. Another poetry book. Love the rhyming in this one. Very catchy and the cover is lovely. Also love how this is very educational.

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    1. The writing makes a great mentor text for all you poets. I can't imagine any young readers who won't be captivated by the factual parts either. Thanks.

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  10. what a great book for poetry month. I love Joyce Sidman's books. She always has such an interesting way of looking at the natural world.

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    1. I'm not sure I'd read any of Joyce's books before. But you can be sure I'll look for all of hers now. Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. This sounds like a beautiful book! I love that poem you quoted. Great entry for D! :-)

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    1. Thank-you. And thanks for looking up my blog.

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  12. Oh, SWIRL BY SWIRL is such a favorite. I keep it by my desk for inspiration. I'll have to find this one.

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    1. I can see why you keep it on your desk if this is any example of Joyce Sidman's work. I put Swirl by Swirl on my list when you reviewed it but *blush* haven't read it yet. Thanks for your comments.

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  13. This looks like a really fine book. I love those illustrations. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. The illustrations are worth the price of admission -- the kind one could pore over for hours.

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  14. What a gorgeous looking book! I know most of the other picks, but I'll be picking them all up again. Thanks, Joanne!

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    1. I think the illustrations will really appeal to your sense of design. Thanks, Julie.

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Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!