Book: Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices
Author: Carole Gerber
Illustrator: Eugene Yelchin
Age Range: 4-8
Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More!: Poems for Two Voices is a picture book designed to be read aloud by two people, alternating portions of each poem. Written by Carole Gerber and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (Breaking Stalin's Nose), Seeds, Bees seems tailor-made for classroom use. It gives kids the chance to perform poetry out loud, in pairs, while also containing quite a bit of informational content about plants and insects.
Each poem is told from the perspective of two plants or creatures, using different colored text for each part. Lines meant to be read by both participants use both colors, switching letter by letter, including the titles. Indentation is also used to make it clear which lines belong to which reader.
There is often a bit of humor incorporated into the poems. For instance, a new green shoot asks a bunny to stop blocking its sunlight, and the bunny says "Relax. That doesn't matter. / You'll be gone in just one bite." Two plants lament the feel of snails leaving "icky, sticky trails." I do think that this humor will work well for kids reading the poems aloud in class.
The nature of the informational content necessitates the occasional use of relatively difficult vocabulary words, though Gerber clearly tries to keep this to a minimum. But we still get stanzas like this:
"We'll gather all their nectar
and also pollinate,
with little tongues and little feet.
Want me to demonstrate?"
(the last line is recited by the second person).
Yelchin's graphite and gouache illustrations are a riot of colors and textures. He often repeats a key texture from the plant or creature of interest as part of the background. So, for example, the texture of the sky reflects back the pattern of the bunny's fur. His insects and flowers tend to be large-scale on each page, really bringing the subject matter to life.
In truth, information poetry isn't really my personal cup of tea. But I think that Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! could be very useful in first through third grade classrooms, due to its combination of perform-ability, bright, realistic illustrations, and informational content. Many kids are fascinated by plants and bugs, making Seeds, Bees, Butterflies, and More! a great companion book for units on nature, gardening, spring, etc. This would be a good choice to gift to your child's classroom, or for library purchase.
Publisher: Henry Holt (@MacKidsBooks)
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
Source of Book: Review copy from the author
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