If you’re feeling a little thirsty, you’ve come to the right place.
Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole (Millbrook Press, 2014) — Irene Latham’s first poetry collection for children– is officially hitting shelves on Monday, September 1!
With fifteen beautifully crafted poems, Irene invites us to meet a fascinating variety of animals who frequent a water hole on the African grasslands.
Whether it’s those charming little meerkats standing guard in a nearby burrow, a tentative giraffe acrobatically positioning itself at water’s edge, a herd of playful zebras cavorting in a metaphorical “rugby tangle,” or a solitary rhino venturing out for his moonlight drink, we can easily see what a busy, life-sustaining place this is from dawn to dusk.
Written in free verse and rhyme, Irene’s spare, evocative poems are by turns lyrical, whimsical, informative, amusing, enlightening, reflective and reverent. She did a brilliant job of zeroing in on precisely those aspects of animal personality and behavior that best lend themselves to poetic interpretation. Each verse is paired with a nonfiction note offering further details about how the animals thrive and function in the ecosystem, illuminating interdependence, survival and diversity.
Anna Wadham’s gorgeous illustrations convey the many moods of the savanna, sometimes rust orange and warm, sometimes jade green and refreshing, other times dreamy cerulean and soothing. Her emotive renderings nicely complement the verses, indeed welcoming the reader to “this vital place/where earth and sky convene,” inspiring us to wander, meander, and freely appreciate this unique poetic celebration of wildlife and habitat.
I especially enjoyed hearing from the new-to-me oxpeckers, whose comical poem I’m sharing today, along with the ethereal “Impala Explosion,” a stunning example of how terse rhythm and neat rhyme can perfectly capture the animals’ spirit and movement.
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