Review of Predator and Prey: A Conversation in Verse

Predator and Prey: A Conversation in Verse
by Susannah Buhrman-Deever; illus. by Bert Kitchen
Primary, Intermediate    Candlewick Studio    32 pp.    g
4/19    978-0-7636-9533-0    $18.99

Buhrman-Deever imagines the relationships between predators and prey as poetic standoffs. Animal antagonists express their behaviors and needs in a variety of creative poetic formats, sometimes in direct confrontation on a single page, sometimes separated across a double-page spread, and twice portrayed in wordless spreads with gatefolds that open to reveal the poems underneath. A motionless Pacific rattlesnake (“I am patient. / I am primed”) waits for a chance to strike a chattering ground squirrel (“Flag waving, / I boldly scold: / ‘Hey you! Get off my lawn!’”). A blue jay ponders which of two nearly identical butterflies to consume (“One is poison; / one is sweet. / How do I choose / which one to eat?”). Content and cadence are cleverly aligned with the actual behaviors of the animals, and the structure and layouts of the poems also echo traits of the creatures: the words in the blue jay poem are spaced apart, and readers must move their heads back and forth to read them, mimicking the jay’s head movements as it ponders its choice of meal. Illustrations are in soft focus, with stippled green and brown landscapes, though some of the animals are hard to spot within these environs. Appended with an extensive bibliography.

From the July/August 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford
Danielle J. Ford is a Horn Book reviewer and an associate professor of Science Education at the University of Delaware.

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