I first "met" Debbie Levy through the pages of her novel-in-verse, This Promise of Change. In her newest book, Photo Ark ABC, Debbie uses more than five different types of poems to playfully describe animals from Aardvarks to Zebra Finches. The accompanying photographs by National Geographic's Joel Sartore are outstanding, cute, and engaging. Children from ages 5-8 will "get" Photo Ark's message of protecting animals and their environment in a beautiful and fun manner.
Hi, Armadillo,Greetings! Grizzly Bear!In a poem you are neighborsIn the wild, you're not a pair.
The only mammal with a shellCan barely see but sure can smellA sniff will tell if danger's nearAnd if its time to disappear...To once againbecome a pillowStoney, scone-yArmadillo.
Hey, little ducklingWhat did you do?What's that dropI see behind you?Aw, little mallardThat's part of life too-It's not just a Duck thingIt's what we all do!
Neither emerald nor moonstone,not mineral, but fauna,This gem has a backboneThis gem is Iguana.
No lungs, no nose, no ears, no eyesNo brain to make a jelly wise.No tongues, no toes, not even heartsNope. Jellyfish don't need those parts.
There once was a Yabby down underWho thought he could vanquish the thunderWith claws he went THWACKAt each BOOM and each CRACKBut could not tear thunder asunder.
CAROL: How did you come up with the idea for this book?
DEBBIE: I didn’t come up with the idea, the people at National Geographic did! A few years ago they’d published Animal Ark, which paired the amazing photos of Joel Sartore with poetic text by Kwame Alexander. Now the idea was to feature another batch of Joel’s photos (of which there are thousands) in an ABC book—from A for armadillo to Z for zebra (and zebra finch!), with a separate poem for each animal. They wanted the poems to be fun and to encourage young people to care about the animals. I was thrilled to have the opportunity.
CAROL: Were the poems difficult to write?
DEBBIE: The poems really were a joy to write. I wanted to include different types of poetry, as an homage to the diversity of species but also to add texture to the book. So there are rhyming forms and free verse and more formal structures, too. (These are all identified in my author’s note in the back matter.) You ask how difficult the poems were to write; if writing’s not at least a little difficult, I’m not sure it’s any fun! Some were more of a challenge than others, but by learning about the different species and subspecies pictured in the book, playing around with forms and words, thinking about what might bring a smile or spark curiosity in the reader’s mind, and meditating on Joel’s images, I composed the poems from A to Z!
Congratulations to Lauris Burns who won the much-in-demand book, AIR by Monica Roe.