Sometimes when I walk through a bookstore, a book just calls out to me. It isn’t what I was looking for. More often than not, it isn’t something I need. But it calls, none-the-less. That is what happened with Kwame Alexander’s Animal Ark.
Theoretically, Animal Ark is a children’s book. It certainly is appealing to children, but I find it touches something deep in me as well. The book is a dance between Joel Sartore’s stunning animal photographs and Alexander’s poetry, shaped around traditional haiku form. But this is not the stilted “count each syllable and clap” poetry that can fill elementary school bulletin boards. It is sparse poetry, each word carefully chosen, with syllables that mostly fit, but sometimes bend to fit the more important ideas behind them.
There are a few longer pieces, calling on readers to preserve the beauty that is shared in the book. Here’s Kwame Alexander reading one of them, and giving glimpses of Sartone’s astonishing photo art.
Animal Ark made me want to go out, take photos of all that is lovely in the world around me, write poetry, and work to preserve the creatures that surround us. I suspect it will inspire your students as well, whether they are in second grade or graduate school. Perhaps it will spur you on to some creativity as well. Take a look and see. Maybe you’ll send me a poem!