Monday, June 11, 2012


Reflection thanks to Jana Harrison.

Florian, D. (2000).  Mammalabilia.  San Diego: Harcourt, Inc..
Age Level: 
Grade 2-5

This is a poetry book because of the rhythmic verse and word choice used throughout the selections.

:  Mammalabilia is a collection of twenty-one poems about different mammals from aardvarks to tapirs. 


       I have always had a love-hate relationship with poetry.  As a child, I loved poetry from Mother Goose rhymes, to A Child's Book of Verses, to of course, Dr. Suess.   As I got into adolescence, and was forced to read works such as The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer, and Beowulf, I found that getting a root canal seemed more appealing than reading these epic poems.  Now as an adult I have come to  respect and understand poetry more because I realize that poetic words are carefully chosen and are like puzzle pieces that must carefully be placed together for the picture to be complete.
       I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mammalabilia, specialized poetry book, about different animals.  Our textbook introduced me to the author/illustrator, Douglas Florian, as it lists him as a notable children's poet.  So far I have read three of his children's books, Mammalabilia; Summersaults; and Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars, and have adored all of them.  What I like about this book in particular is his use of different types figurative language and poetry forms.  For example, on page 9, he uses a concrete poem to describe the Bactrian Camel by having the words on the page in the shape of two camel humps.  Again on page 45, he uses a concrete poem to describe "The Porcupine" with the words written upwards in lines like quills on a porcupine's back.  He also uses wordplay in several of his poems including "The Aardvarks" on page 6 with the lines: "Aardvarks aare odd." and "By faar in the daark."  This is a clever way of rhyming, but also imitating the word "aardvark." He does this on page 21 with the poem "The Lynx" saying that "coats of lynx...stynx."  Florian uses onomatopoeia on page 46 with the use of "come hear me purrr" and wordplay with the same poem, "stripes upon my a blurrr...I am a tigerrr."  These poems would make good read-alouds, but because of the concrete poems, wordplay, and other visual elements, they really should be enjoyed being read individually for readers to get the full effect of the poems.
       This book would be a wonderful supplement for a science animal unit of study.  It contains unusual animals like the lynx, ibex, tapir, and rhebok (it is not just a shoe).  Students could research a mammal and write a poem about their mammal as Florian does in this book., complete with a hand-painted illustration.  After reading this book's back matter, I learned that the illustrations in this book are gouache on brown paper bags.  Students could create their illustrations using this type of medium to mimic Florian's style of artwork.  Douglas Florian's works will be making a great debut upon my classroom library shelves!

Big Question:

Poetry tends to use metaphors (state something is something else) and similes (use of like or as) to compare things.  How are you like one of the animals in this book? 

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