A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis,illustrated by Alison Jay (2002, 40 pages, ages 4-8)
"Travel by boat or by car or by plane
To visit East Africa, Singapore, Spain.
Go by yourself or invite a good friend,
But traveling by poem is what I recommend!"
And indeed these poems take the reader around the world, exploring far off places and the people that explored them, offering helpful mnemonics (I especially appreciated the one about latitude and longitude -- "lines of latitude have a flatitude" and geographical readers.
I really wanted to love this book. It is absolutely lovely to look at--Jay's illustrations, in antique mappy tones, with the crazing of old oil paintings, are things of beauty. The educational content is great. But sadly, the poems themselves didn't quite sing for me; the majority felt rather forced.
One of the more engaging poems was Knockabout and Knockaboom, which the author tells us is set in the Mohave Desert, Southwestern United States (and I did like this sort of informative detail very much). Here's the first verse:
"The wind that whistles desert songs
By spinning tops of sand
Leaves behind a silent sea
Of dune-upon-dune land."
For what it's worth, my six year old said he liked all the poems. And probably this book will appeal greatly to all kids who consider themselves "sciency."
The Poetry Friday round up is at the Farm School today!