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*Nest, Nook, and Cranny* by Susan Blackaby, illustrated by Jamie Hogan
Also by Susan Blackaby:

Brownie Groundhog and the February Fox
Nest, Nook, and Cranny
by Susan Blackaby, illustrated by Jamie Hogan
Grades 3-6 49 pages Charlesbridge February 2010 Hardcover    

Susan Blackaby explores a range of animal habitats in a poetry collection comprising everything from Shakespearean sonnets to free verse. The book is grouped by habitat (desert, grassland, shoreline, wetland, woodland), although Blackaby cautions early on that animals such as coyotes and birds do not care a whit for such traditional habitat descriptions and will freely move from one to another.

The poems, which are by turns witty and whimsical, succinctly capture the essence of an animal. For instance, the poet notes that tortoises and snails, which carry their homes on their backs can be visited any time, because “there’s always someone home.” A poem describing a spider successfully luring prey into its web delivers this tiny jolt at the end: “He sticks around ‘til dinnertime. (She never eats alone)”.

The poems serve to inform as well as amuse --- for instance, we learn in “Hare” that these animals are solitary and prefer to live in simple, bowl-shaped nests - unlike the more social rabbits, which prefer burrows or warrens (“A warren is a riot – Hares require quiet”).

Jamie Hogan’s numerous and gorgeous charcoal pencil drawings, including the two-page spreads that introduce each habitat, give Nest, Nook, and Cranny the appearance of a beloved field journal - indeed, this would make a good book to take along on a nature hike.

At the end of the book, Blackaby introduces students to the basic elements of poetic forms and devices and explains how she selected the appropriate poetic form for each of the poems. This is a terrific book for naturalists and poets of all ages.

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