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author: Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

illustrator: Megan Halsey, Sean Addy

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Elephant Poems

ISBN-13/EAN: 9780618903498

ISBN-10: 0618903496

Hardcover, Reinforced Binding ; 32 pages

Publication Date: 02/22/2011

Illustrations: full-color illustrations

Trim Size: 10.00 x 10.00


All rights reserved ⓒ 2010 Tracie Vaughn Zimmer, image ⓒ Megan Halsey, Sean Addy

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Against fanciful collage backdrops portraying pachyderms in an array of styles and arrangements, Zimmer pairs prose and mostly free-verse tributes to elephants and those who care for them. She opens with a retelling of an Indian folktale about how elephants were deprived of their wings (“To this very day / you can see the poor elephants / flapping their ears, / dreaming of flight, / but now only / cousins of clouds”) and closes with a globe-spanning catalog of images proving that the animals are “etched in the imagination / of all mankind.” In between, she writes with passion and sympathy of abandoned work elephants in Bangkok, how the huge animals care for their young, of elephant predators and intelligence, of elephant refuges in Kenya and Tennessee. Along with giving each spread a different look and palette, the illustrators inject dashes of visual wit—a large side view of an elephant’s body is in part assembled from inanimate items like a “tapered rope of tail” and “great pillars” of legs to accompany a clutch of haiku describing an elephant's constituent parts. The author adds a boxed-in block of commentary to each spread and tacks a quick reading list to the end. Purposeful, but both informative and heartfelt. (Informational picture book/poetry. 8-10)  


Elephants are the revered subject of Zimmer's lovingly crafted works. In one, a jubilant pachyderm describes the pleasures of mud-bathing ("slurp!/ thwonk!/ splat!/ Completely divine,/ muddy chocolate sublime/ splattered onto my skin--/ better yet, I'll dive in"), while a moving sonnet celebrates an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee: "Old friends reunite after decades apart;/ trumpets and rumblings as hopeful as light." Halsey and Addy's warm and expressive mixed-media collages incorporate vintage-looking illustrations and musical notation to emphasize the animal's various qualities, while avoiding overly anthropomorphic representations--while remaining attentive to the affection between a mother and baby elephant. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)


"Every spread combines meticulously worded poems and soft, winsome collages, along with notes that expound upon their traits and threats to their survival."

—Jenny Miller, reviews children’s books at:
WHERE THE BEST BOOKS ARE! http://wherethebestbooksare.blogspot.com/2011/02/cousins-of-clouds-elephant-poems.html#moreshapeimage_19_link_0

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