poetry friday

I Am a Baby Porcupette
from Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen

I am a baby porcupette.
My paws are small; my nose is wet.
And as I nurse against my mom,
we mew and coo a soft duet.

I am a baby porcupette.
I cannot climb up branches yet.
While Mom sleeps in the trees, I curl
beneath a log till sun has set.

I am a baby porcupette.
I nibble in the nighttime wet:
a spring of leaves, a tuft of grass,
in hidden spots I won’t forget.

I am a baby pocupette.
My fur is soft; my eyes are jet.
But I can deal with any threat:
I raise my quills
and pirouette.


Dark Emperor is a 2011 Newbery Honor Book, and might just as well have garnered an award in the Caldecott division.  There are multiple excellencies here!

First, Sidman’s poetry.  Twelve poems, all written on the theme of nighttime in the forest — the creatures, sounds, and feel of the dark, quiet, cool,  busy world of moonlight and shadow and nocturnal animals.  The poems come in multiple forms, multiple rhythmic patterns; all are very beautifully crafted, filled with sensory images and delicious sounds from wordplay, yet also conveying intriguing factual information.

Second, Allen’s stunning prints.  Absolutely gorgeous, delicately colored, richly patterned, page after page of beauty.  From the growth rings on fallen logs to the tiny hiding mice, the patterns on leaves and grasses, smooth orange efts and lumpity wide-faced frogs…I could go on cataloguing the splendid artistry in this book for quite some time.  It is fantastic.

Third, the sidebars of nature lore.  Each two-page spread includes one poem, one print, and a sidebar of well-written factual information about that topic, be it mushrooms or bats, owls or crickets.  There’s a lot to  learn tucked into this book.

Last, but not least…both Sidman and Allen are Minnesotans!!  Yeah!

Be sure to check this book out.  Just right for folks from 3 to 100!  Here’s a link to the book on Amazon:   Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night (Booklist Editor’s Choice. Books for Youth (Awards))