When it comes to the animal kingdom, just who is the tops?
Who’s the fastest flyer, the smallest mammal, the best long-distance runner?
Readers of all ages will have fun guessing the best of the best in Champion Chompers, Super Stinkers and Other Poems by Extraordinary Animals (Kids Can Press, 2023). In Linda Ashman’s lively, cleverly crafted mask (persona) poems, 19 animal contestants compete for the top prize by hinting at their identities, proudly citing what makes them amazing in some way.
AERIE ARCHITECT No dreary cave, No teensy cup, No rocky shore will do. I want the best: A spacious nest And dazzling penthouse view.
Each poem appears on a righthand page with an illustration showing only part of its body (a tail, a wing, a neck, a trunk). Readers then flip to the next page for a full view of the animal, its claim to fame, and a paragraph of fascinating facts, including how the animal’s superlative features were measured.
Poems are playful, engaging, and brim with personality. Who can resist such a fun guessing game while learning about creatures from the land, sea, and air? There’s a nice mix of familiar animals (skunk, crocodile, giraffe) with less familiar ones (Pronghorn, Eurasian Hoopoe, Etruscan Shrew). I was especially happy to see two of my favorite animals included: elephants and sloths (that sloths are the slowest of mammals makes me love them even more; besides, we both really like just hanging around). 🙂Continue reading