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The subtitle of this book tells you exactly what the book is about: "The world's most dangerous habitats & the animals that call them home."

I am compelled to note up front that I adore Marilyn personally and have long been a fan of her work (prior to meeting her in person, even), and I tend to get a bit fan-girlish about Ed Young's work as well. Also, the publisher sent me a review copy, making me a happy girl when it unexpectedly arrived in my mail box.

If you are now expecting a highly favorable review, then you are indeed a clever boots.

Singer has crafted a collection of fourteen poems about animals that live in extremely harsh climates and conditions, ranging from inside glaciers to difficult undersea spaces to barren or (some would say) unpleasant places on the earth's surface. The poems feature a mix of mammals, birds, mollusks, reptiles and invertebrates, each of which is described or discussed in a poetic form that seems spot-on suited for them. So it is that the spadefoot toads ("Dry as Dust") merit a spare haiku, whereas the high-ranging mountain goat ("Top of the World") gets a Shakespearean sonnet. The back matter in the book includes descriptions of the animals and their habitats, as well as a page about the poetry, explaining the forms used and providing resources for writing in verse.

The poem, "Out of Sight", about blind cave fish, is especially lovely. It is one of two poems written in free verse, though its use of assonance, alliteration and internal rhyme lends it a musicality that is quite virtuoso (reminding me, in fact, of many of the things I adore about the excellent work of former U.S. Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan):

Out of Sight
by Marilyn Singer

In these caves the blind are not bats,
    but fish.
Small, pink, eyeless,
they navigate their pools with confidence,
easily avoiding obstacles.
Crystals, cave pearls, fellow fish,
    no indecision, no collision.
Who needs vision
as long as this world remains
    so wet
    so dark?

And check out this gorgeous collage illustration for "Salt of the Earth":

Or, better yet, preview some of the pages of the book using Scribd over at Chronicle's website.

Highly recommended for lovers of poetry, animals, poetry about animals, and, of course, for natural scientists everywhere.
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( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 26th, 2012 06:49 pm (UTC)
Beautiful! I'm an Ed Young fan already, and I guess I'm going to be a Marilyn Singer one, too.
Jul. 26th, 2012 07:30 pm (UTC)
I am pretty sure you'll love her writing, Amy.
Jul. 27th, 2012 05:10 am (UTC)
Heh heh, I like being a clever boots! And what a gorgeous book. I'm so glad you posted about it here because I'm not in the PB section very often anymore. But I still love reading them.
Aug. 10th, 2012 11:20 pm (UTC)
I know just what you mean - I have to make a concerted effort to get there myself - and I write them!
Laura Purdie Salas
Jul. 30th, 2012 12:42 pm (UTC)
I can't wait to see this! I've just gone and put it on reserve at my library. Thanks for sharing the delicious cave fish poem. I'm heaping extra love on

Crystals, cave pearls, fellow fish,
    no indecision, no collision.

Aug. 10th, 2012 11:21 pm (UTC)
It's really gorgeous work - Marilyn was at the top of her game here.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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