Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night
By: Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by: Rick Allen
Published: Houghton Mifflin 2010
Welcome to the Night
"To all of you who crawl and creek,
who buzz and chirp and hoot and peep,
who wake at dusk and throw off sleep:
Welcome to the night."
This book is about the creatures that go bump in the night. Sidman uses beautiful poetry to write about raccoons, snails, moths, owls, trees, spiders, porcupine, crickets, mushrooms, efts, bats, and the moon.
Each double page spread has a poem dedicated to the animal and on the other page in a small side frame there is information about the animal depicted in the poem. All of these animals come out at night and explore their world with the moon shining bright. I love how Sidman combines poetry with a nonfiction book. Children will not only be able to learn about nocturnal animals but also see that science can be used to write poetry.
I am usually not a fan of poetry books but I have to say this one really stood out one that was easy to read and understand. My favorite poem was "I am a Baby Porcupette." "I am a baby porcupette. My fur is soft; my eyes are jet; But I can deal with any threat; I raise my quills and pirouette." I think this poem is beautiful and shows us exactly what a porcupette is, which I might add that I had not idea was what you called a baby Porcupine. I also like that Sidman explained everything about the porcupette on the opposite side.
The actually layout of this book with the illustrations and text also makes it very easy to read and intrigues any reader. The poem is accompanied by a small inset picture of the animal featured in the poem. The opposite side is a framed larger picture of that animal in their habitat. Next to the frame is a small column with the actual facts shared about the animal. I loved the way this layout highlights each animal but also the poetry. The back of the book also included a glossary of certain words such as photosynthesis and spinnerets that are included in the book.
The illustrations in this book were created by Rick Allen and are stunning. Right after the title page there is a double page full bleed spread that shows the night coming and the animals stirring. You can see the texture created in the illustrations and the dark shadows that create the setting. Looking closely you can see the animals that are discussed in the poems. If you read the copyright page it discusses how the prints of the book are made from relief printing where a sketch is transferred to wood or linoleum and carved. The time and careful detail that went into creating the beautiful images make the book even more enjoyable and makes me want to go back and study the illustrations giving them the time that they deserve.
I really enjoyed this book and would use it in my classroom. It can serve as a great science lesson and encourage the children to pick their own animal to write poetry about instead of a normal book report.