Around the World on Eighty Legs (review)
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Reviewed by
Gibson, Amy. Around the World on Eighty Legs; illus. by Daniel Salmieri. Scholastic, 2011. [256p]. ISBN 978-0-439-58755-6 $18.99 Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 2-5.

Sixty poems, divided into five different continents or regions (South America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Arctic and Antarctic together), treat various animal residents of these global quadrants. Subjects range from the very large ("Elephant") to the very small ("Krill"), from frequent fliers ("Arctic Tern") to deep divers ("Electric Eel"), from the furry ("Chinchilla") to the pointy ("Echidna"). The verses, pithy entries usually sporting close-coupled rhyme, have a Florian-esque flavor, some offering genuine tidbits of natural history ("Walruses are very clever,/ using tusks just like a lever") while others are simply sportively silly (the warthog "never/ gets her beauty rest"). With a range of subjects that heads outside of the usual (the bilby and the agouti, for instance, generally fly below poetry's radar), this is an enticing collection of browsable and readaloud-ready verse. There's plenty of punny and quippy amusement to be found, but there are also some genuine touches of lyricism, as in "Tiger" ("He steals on silent, padded paws/ and leaves the talking to his/ claws"). Salmieri's slender, tidy lines, soft colors, and slightly deranged realism somewhat echo Sophie Blackall's art; his comically beady-eyed, stem-legged menagerie clearly belong to a common kingdom, but there's plenty of individuality in their poses, miens, and touches of context. Precise readers will quickly observe that there are a whole lot more than the titular eighty legs here, but that's all the better for a grand romp suitable for reading aloud and inviting to browsers. There is unfortunately neither table of contents nor index, but the book closes with three pages of information about each of the feature creatures. [End Page 519]

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