Imaginary Menagerie, A Book of Curious Creatures poems by Julie Larios, pictures by Julie Paschkis (Harcourt, 2008).
After I read this book, I went out and bought a powerball ticket. I wanted to be able to buy one of the paintings...as usual, I didn't win. And today, after enjoying this book in our home, we are handing it over to the library, where it should disappear quite quickly into other homes. "No Mama!" cried my 4 year old, "No! Don't take it away!" In short, the paintings of mythical creatures in this book are some of the loveliest I've ever seen. I can't do them justice (Lindisfarne Gospel meets Ukrainian egg decoration? With variations, such as North West coast art? see below), so go look at the book yourself. (Although all the three styles I mentioned do share the commonality of occupying empty space with color and pattern and loving detail, so perhaps I am not so far off).
The downside of having such gorgeous pictures is that the poems end up a bit overshadowed. Ten of the fourteen poems address the reader with direct questions, giving them a certain sameness of voice that I found a bit disappointing. Here's my favorite:
The air around me
burns bright as the sun.
I tell wild rivers
which way to run.
I'm arrow tailed,
a luck bringer.
When I fly,
it's a flame song the world sings.
But you can ride safely
between my wings.
A nice touch to this book is the glossary of imaginary creatures at the end, where those who aren't quite sure what hobgoblins are can find out.
You can read another poem, Thunderbird, here at Kelly Fineman's blog.
And Harcourt has created a classroom kit for National Poetry Month and Young People's Poetry Week (April 14-20) based on this book--here's the link.
The Poetry Friday roundup is being hosted today at the lovely blog of Wild Rose Reader.
Just for kicks, here (not as beautifully laid out as they were supposed to be, grr) are a closeup from the Lindisfarne gospel, some eggs, and a North West coast chest: