Author: Nicola Davies
Illustrator: Petr Horacek
Title: Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: 2017.10.03
My Rating Out of 10: 8.5
Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals presents various animals through poetry and illustrations. Davies and Horacek include over fifty animals, grouped into categories: Big and Small, Colors and Shapes, Animal Homes, Animal Babies, and Animals in Action. Each animal gets its own spread, with some scientific information embedded in a poem accompanied by a beautiful illustration of the animal. After reading this book, a young child would have been introduced to some common animals, as well as some very interesting animals.
Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals can be used in so many ways by teachers, parents, and librarians. It introduces a variety of animals and different styles of poetry; and it explains scientific topics in an accessible and age-appropriate way. Adults could share this book with children in parts, or as a whole. Librarians could use this book in story time, choosing excerpts that pertain to the theme. Teachers could use this book as an additional resource for either poetry or science/animal lessons.
Davies’ use of language is exquisite. She is able to explain different, and sometimes difficult, concepts without limiting herself to “babyish” language. In one poem, she writes about the communication of a nightingale and a humpback whale; while each animal does it in a different way, she emphasizes the fact that they are both the same. An excerpt: “they will never hear each other / only you can tell / their different songs are the same music / singing, singing!”. Her other poems are just as beautiful. She draws the reader into the wild, making them feel like they are in on some secret, and as if they are witnessing these animals for real.
While Davies uses her language to draw the reader in, Horacek uses his artwork. Horacek used mixed media to create entire spreads that showcase an animal or two. Each animal is created with tremendous detail, and seem to be scientifically accurate. His use of placement, backgrounds, patterns, color, and other animals helps to show how the animals live and what they are like. For example, when comparing the ostrich, the biggest bird in the world, and a hummingbird, the smallest bird in the world, he places them next to one another so that the reader can understand just how different in size they are. Davies writes that “This hummingbird could fit inside / an ostrich’s big eye.”, and Horacek illustrates it perfectly…placing the hummingbird at the ostrich’s eye level.
At other times, Horacek creates spreads that look like field notebooks. His illustrations are paired with Davies’ more scientific writing. A spread, titled “What Am I?”, does just that. It introduces children to the different animal classes: mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, spider, crustacean, insect, and fish. Davies provides the attributes of each class, and Horacek provides the scientifically accurate illustrations.
Together, Davies and Horacek have created a book that fuses science and the arts. Each page takes the reader into a new environment to meet an amazing animal. Adults and children alike will enjoy perusing through and reading about their favorite animal. This book would be an amazing addition to any library…public, school, or home.
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