Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček

Song of the Wild: A First Book of Wild Animals
by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček
Review Copy from Candlewick Press
Nicola Davies is a wonderful and prolific author of fiction and non-fiction. With a degree in zoology and time spent studying whales and bats, as well as work with the BBC's Natural History Unit, Davies shines when writing books about animals and the natural world. I've reviewed eight of her books in as many years and am always delighted and entranced by her work. With Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals, Davies adds another title to her collection of essential books for all children (more in this series at the end of the review). On thing I especially appreciate about her work is the breadth and organization that she brings to each subject, which is probably informed by her training and work as a zoologist.
Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals is divided into five sections: Big and Small, Colors and Shapes, Animal Homes, Animal Babies, and Animals in Action, that allow her to start with a wide view, narrowing her focus in over fifty poems. Each section's theme is explored in short poems, most of which are given a two-page spread in this beautiful, oversized book, and the section ends with a facts page with illustrations that are more realistic and scientific, including one about parasites.
Davies is a marvelous poet and her simple verses are rich with imagery and details that transport readers. Monarch butterflies:

fly up onto the twigs, 
clothing, covering the trees
in a thick coat of flame
that shimmers as a shiver passes
from wing to wing

Davies also brings a playfulness to her poems, calling describing fireflies as beetles, each one "flashing a sign / that says, 'Please find me and be mine!'" Her poem, "Why Are Zebras Striped?" flip-flops from black to white and white to black while sharing benefits of being black and white with readers.

Song of the Wild: A First Book of Animals is a book readers will pore over and pre-readers will want read over and over. 



A First Book of the Sea

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