Review of At the Poles

At the Poles At the Poles
by David Elliott; illus. by Ellen Rooney
Primary    Candlewick    40 pp.
10/23    9781536205992    $18.99

That paragon of poetic pith Elliott (In the Woods, rev. 3/20; and others) returns with another winning entry. Here his focus is on animals of the Polar Regions, from emperor penguins in Antarctica, through two species that inhabit the waters of both regions, to polar bears in the Arctic. Many of the fifteen brief poems use direct address, the better to connect creature with readers (orca: “You have a reputation / both / thrilling and widespread. / You inspire admiration, / awe, / and not a little dread”); some employ internal rhymes or multiple rhymes (southern elephant seal: “But how do you ex- / plain your tremendous / amplitude when you / sometimes go for months / without a single / bite of food?”); all display originality of thought. Rooney’s eye-catching portraits—created using printmaking ink, gouache, crayon, and digital and traditional collage techniques—vary to match the tone of each poem, from lighthearted and humorous to majestic and haunting (see her shivery Greenland shark). Appended with useful and relevant “Notes About the Animals.”

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is a contributing editor to The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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